What Does An Elder Law Attorney Do?
What do Elder Law attorneys do and how can I help?
In contrast to the role of traditional estate planning attorneys, who help clients plan for the end of life, Elder Law attorneys focus on their clients’ needs during their lifetime. We are advocates for the elderly, the disabled, and their loved ones, assisting them and their caregivers to deal with issues related to health care, long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, social security, medicare/medicaid, and other important matters.
Seniors and the disabled are vulnerable because they are dealing with unique and complex legal concerns. Therefore, it is important for people to work with an attorney who is an expert in the field and who can also help them navigate the system and coordinate with the broad range of other professionals and government agencies serving this group.
Utilizing various strategies, Elder Law attorneys assist seniors and the disabled to accomplish their goals of continuing to live with meaning, and to die in peace and with dignity.
Elder Law Strategies
Some strategies that are used by Elder Law Attorneys to help seniors and the disabled to accomplish their goals include:
- Family asset protection planning for long term care. Using legal and ethical planning tools, personalized for each family, we assist families to obtain public benefits, including various types of Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits, to help offset the costs of long-term care. They help clients to obtain government assistance for care that they can receive in their homes, in independent and assisted living facilities, and, if and when the time comes, at the best skilled nursing facilities.
- Estate planning. Unlike traditional estate planners (who do very good and valuable work), Elder Law attorneys help clients and their families put together and refine a plan of care, so that as their clients’ lives change, they are legally prepared in case of an emergency or an unexpected change in health.
- Guardianship. We help with the appointment of a guardian to act on behalf of an incapacitated individual’s person or property or both, under the court’s supervision. A family member can assume this responsibility, or, the court can appoint a professional guardian to serve.
- Guardianship advocacy. We help with the appointment of a guardian advocate, who is a person appointed by order of the court to act on behalf of a person, regardless of age, with a disability that constitutes a substantial handicap that can reasonably be expected to continue indefinitely, such as retardation.
- Special needs planning. In order for disabled people to obtain certain government benefits, they must qualify financially. An Elder Law attorney utilizes strategies and individually plans for clients and their families to provide for the long-term care of members of their families with disabilities. Such benefits are irreplaceable and their value cannot be measured.
- Probate and trust administration. When a loved one passes away, it takes an emotional toll on families. Navigating the legal landscape to achieve the loved one’s final wishes in an orderly manner can be overwhelming. An Elder Law attorney can help from the initial court filings through distribution, as well as advise clients as part of long-term trust administrations.
Elder Law is a branching term used to cover several subsets of legal practice: the creation of a will, estate planning, the legal management of benefits & annuities (as well as their appropriate protections), and more.
While many people view these matters as simple planning for their future or the benefit of their loved ones, it is a rapidly growing field of legal practice because it can provide necessary protections for one’s own care as one advances in age.
In brief: Elder Law is more than a matter of simply preparing for the end, but also preparing for the care that may be required in advance of that.
Elder Law is about anticipating and serving the client’s needs as they change and evolve with age.
Thus, the legal services involved can come in a variety of forms:
- Predicting and planning for long-term care
- Assisting in the creation and appointment of a fiduciary or Power of Attorney
- Advising of potential public or private resources to assist in covering projected costs
- Protecting & preserving the interests and care of our clients
The immediate question that springs to mind for many, though, would be, "What planning is required apart from a standard will?"
More specifically, the forms of services I provide can involve the following:
- Family Asset Protection Planning
- Long-Term Care Planning
- Special Needs & Disabilities
- Estate Planning
- Probate, Estate & Trust Administration
- Guardianship & Conservatorship
I would love to chat with you about your family's needs. Please feel free to call me at any time and we'll discuss your situation and make a plan for your family.