– Authored by: Kendra R. Rozboril
The title “Elder Law Attorney” is broad in the sense that an attorney practicing in this area handles many different matters.
An Elder Law Attorney counsels clients on issues that arise in basic estate planning, long-term care, and everything in between. But at the heart of what these attorneys do is to serve as an advocate for the elderly and their loved ones. Advocating for an elderly client typically occurs in three stages: pre-planning, emergency planning, and court involvement.
In the pre-planning stage, an Elder Law Attorney assists you with planning for your future. Because your future is always somewhat of a mystery, an Elder Law Attorney can help you prepare for the unknown. Pre-planning is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of an Elder Law Attorney’s role and may encompass Estate Planning, Medicaid Planning, Power of Attorney documents, and Long-Term Care Planning. In this stage, you will work closely with an attorney to think ahead about life events involving health, family, assets, business, and finances. The Attorney will assist you in assessing various planning options to carry out your wishes. Most importantly, this stage allows you to make decisions for yourself and on your own, without the pressure of an immediate need to actually implement these decisions.
Of course, it is not uncommon to simply fail to engage in pre-planning, despite the knowledge that you should do so. And if you fail to pre-plan and find yourself in a situation in which you need assistance, an Elder Law Attorney can assist you in planning on an emergency basis. At the emergency planning stage, planning options available to you may be much more limited than at the pre-planning stage. There are increased restrictions on what an Elder Law Attorney may ethically do at this stage. For example, an application for Medicaid long-term nursing home benefits requires that an individual disclose all transfers of money made in the last 5 years. While in this emergency stage, you may not be able to establish a Trust to hold your assets, for purposes of obtaining Medicaid eligibility, an Elder Law Attorney can assist you with other planning measures to ensure that your Medicaid eligibility is not denied. Even in the emergency stage, any planning is far more advantageous than no planning at all.
When there has been no planning at all, court involvement is likely in order to appoint someone with the authority to make decisions with regard to your health and finances. At this point, planning decisions for you will essentially be in a judge’s hands, however, an Elder Law Attorney can represent you through the process and advocate for your best interests.
If you or a loved one needs the assistance of an Elder Law Attorney, please contact our office today.
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