Did you know that May is National Elder Law Month? Unlike most attorneys whose work is defined by the type of law they practice, elder law attorneys may be best described by the clients they serve. Let us discuss in more detail the services that may be provided by elder law attorneys, as well as five tips for caring for an aging senior.
Elder law attorneys work with seniors, disabled individuals, and their families in the following areas:
- Asset protections
- Long-term care planning
- Estate planning
- Medicaid counseling, advocacy, and representation
- Eligibility for Medicare, Social Security, and Veteran’s Benefits
- Guardianship and incompetency, including durable powers of attorney
- Health care needs planning, including advance health care directives
- Recognition of abuse of vulnerable people and prevention
- Placement in and advocacy with assisted living and skilled nursing facilities
If you are caring for an aging senior, it can be important to seek help and access available resources. Let us take a look at five tips to help you and your aging loved ones:
1. Learn the cost of long-term care in your state and identify how to afford long-term care in the future. You can learn more about the costs of care in our state based on the region and the care you need using this link to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey. For many families, spending $4,000-$11,000 for long-term care is not in the monthly budget. Elder law attorneys can help you decide what to expect and how to protect assets in case of long-term care. Being prepared for long-term care costs can bring a great deal of peace of mind to both you and your senior loved one.
2. Check that a durable power of attorney is in place. A durable power of attorney appoints a trusted individual to make financial or other decisions about a loved one if he or she becomes incapacitated. An elder law attorney can work with you and your loved one to prepare the document. If your loved one is already incapacitated and does not have a durable power of attorney, an elder law attorney can initiate guardianship proceedings to allow you or another trustworthy adult to handle your loved one’s financial and personal affairs.
3. Protect assets from financial exploitation. Elder law attorneys can identify and alert family members to financial exploitation that may have otherwise been missed. They can also draft trusts, wills, and other financial documents to protect your loved one’s assets and make sure his or her estate planning is current.
4. Consider establishing a living will and health care surrogate. While it may never be comfortable to think about end of life care, it can be important to properly document the kinds of care you do and do not want to receive. An elder law attorney can help make sure that your wishes are properly documented and legally enforceable.
5. Talk to your loved ones about your concerns and theirs. Sharing concerns with your loved ones can help alleviate your concerns, and allows you an opportunity to engage their assistance in helping you plan for the future. The time for planning is now, well in advance of when there is a need for long-term care.
When it comes to elder law issues, you can be confronted with complex and emotional decisions. Putting plans and protections in place can put your mind and that of the senior you care for at ease. For assistance, please reach out to our office to schedule a meeting time.
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