- Long-term care and nursing home care
- Medicaid and asset protection planning
- Social Security and retirement income planning
- Disability planning
- Elder abuse
- Housing options, such as assisted-living and residential homes for the aged
- Financial and healthcare decision-making through the use of durable powers of attorney
- End-of-life decision-making through the use of living wills and advance directives
- Probate and estates
- Revocable living trusts and wills
An Elder Law attorney can evaluate your future planning needs. They know all of the laws, restrictions, and eligibility requirements relating to federal taxes, government benefit programs, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and long-term healthcare. They can advise you and help you draft a personalized plan for your future that works with the current laws and restrictions that are in place. An attorney can create end-of-life documents with you, for example wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents.
There are many options with long-term care, it can be provided in-home, at an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. The level of care that is required can help determine which option is best. The amount and type of care that is needed could change over time and should be planned for as well. An elder law attorney can review admissions agreements to make sure they protect the client and their family.
It is a common misconception that Medicare will pay for long-term care, it will not. Elder law attorneys know the guidelines for applying to Medicaid and they can walk you through the process. Even if initially you do not qualify, an elder law attorney can work with you to help you become qualified.
The cost varies by area but is generally quite expensive whether it is in-home care, assisted living, or a nursing home. In some areas costs can exceed $100,000 per year. That is enough to bankrupt most middle class families. An elder law attorney can help you to plan in advance and make the costs more manageable. There are many options available for planning, that is why it’s important to meet with someone that can help you choose which one is best for your situation.
You can pay out-of-pocket, use long-term care insurance (which you must purchase when you are healthy), or qualify for Medicaid. There are strict income and asset guidelines that must be met to qualify for Medicaid. Working with an elder law attorney you can become qualified for Medicaid even if you were initially turned down.
The sooner that you start planning, the better. Illness can happen at any time and it is best to be prepared. When qualifying for Medicaid there is a look back period where they check for any behavior that could disqualify you. By speaking with an attorney ahead of time, you can be sure that you are not engaging in any disqualifying behaviors.
Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, or financial. Within each classification there are more specific definitions.
- Physical: causing bodily harm to an elder person.
- Emotional: ignoring, threatening, yelling, neglecting, or abandoning an elder person.
- Financial: stealing belongings, forging checks, taking monetary benefits, changing documents without permission (wills, life insurance policy, property titles).
Likely victims are elderly men and woman that do not have friends or family around to care for them. People with disabilities, memory problems, or dementia can also be likely targets.
Typical signs of elder abuse are depression, acting out or displaying violent behavior, becoming withdrawn, stops participating in activities they once enjoyed and more.