Elder law is a an area of law that caters primarily to aging seniors who are looking to confirm their well-being is placed on the forefront as they get older. As you advance into a certain phase of your life, things tend to become a bit riskier and incapacity becomes more prevalent. Because you wish to be ready for the unexpected, there are certain measures you can take to confirm your estate and health aren’t compromised. Elder law attorneys work with elderly individuals and discuss things like:
- Power of attorney
- Creating a living will and/or trust
- Estate planning, and much more
Now, you may be asking yourself why you would need to assign someone with the role of power of attorney, whether it be to look after finances or make healthcare-related judgments because you are capable of doing all of that right now. The fact is, many individuals find themselves in an unfortunate situation where they neglected to create a long-term care plan and their family members are left having to make certain decisions. What would happen if you came down with a crippling illness? Who is actually going to help you in case you develop dementia or Alzheimer’s? Of course this isn’t something you ought to dwell on, but it should be considered.
Elder care attorneys also work with people like you to make it easier to understand some uncertainties that many senior citizens face and supply you with the options you have as to how you can create your own long-term care plan.
One thing to keep in mind is that while there are many components that need to be included in your long-term care plan, everyone’s is going to be different based on their own circumstances and needs. To help you better understand what you might want to include in your own long-term care plan, or to help get you the financial support you may need to get into an assisted-living facility, you are going to want to get in touch with a proficient elder care lawyer, and USAttorneys.com can assist you with finding one.
What Other Areas Do Elder Care Attorneys Specialize in?
An elder law lawyer is not only going to sit down with you and examine all the components that are included in a long-term care plan, but they are also going to confirm your legal documents are filed. Long-term care planning is a broad area that encompasses many different things. Some of the other areas an elder law attorney will touch upon with you include:
- Mental health issues
- Retirement and pensions
- Social Security
- Management of estates, trusts and wills
- Elderly Abuse
- Age discrimination
- Asset protection
- Veteran benefits
Let USAttorneys.com Find You the Best Elder Law Lawyer Today
Finding an attorney might appear daunting, but you can relax knowing as you have USAttorneys.com working on your side. Our agents are dedicated to getting you connected with the best elder care attorneys in the field and will stop at nothing until you are paired up with a worthy and reliable lawyer.
Regardless of whether you like it or not, we are all going to get older at some point or another. When that time comes, you want to ensure you have answers to questions such as where you will live, how you will receive care, and what will happen at the end. Many of these considerations necessitate help from elder law lawyers who are here to protect the interests of their clients, make preparations, and offer advice.
If you are planning ahead for this point in your life, or making plans for an elderly loved one, here are some things you need to know:
What Exactly Is Elder Law?
This refers to the branch of law that deals with numerous legal issues that affect elderly people. Specific and common issues that elder law attorneys deal with include:
- Conservatorship: More often than not, courts are needed in order to appoint a guardian for incapacitated people. This involves a legal proceeding where a judge decides whether or not they need to designate a guardian in order to make decisions for and manage the affairs of the elderly person. In general, the guardian is responsible for caring for the indisposed person and their financial affairs. Things that the guardian is responsible for include making sure the elderly person has the basic necessities, making medical care decisions, and managing the person’s finances.
- Estate Planning: This is the area of law that deals with the transfer of one person’s property to their designated heirs after their death. This generally occurs through what is referred to as the probate process, which is a complicated and generally long legal affair. Elder care lawyers are usually involved in estate planning affairs from the beginning to the end. Estate planning may come in many forms, including the following:
- Trust: Some people opt to set up a trust to manage their property once they pass away. In order to do this, the grantor, otherwise known as the person who sets up the trust, creates the trust and transfers property such as bonds, cash, and stocks to the trust’s control. A trustee is then appointed to administer the trust and distribute funds according to the terms of the trust.
- Will: This outlines how someone who has passed away wants their property doled out after their death. It also names an executor who will manage and distribute the deceased person’s estate. Each state has specific laws that govern the administration of someone’s estate once they have passed and for the drafting of wills. For these reasons, many people commonly hire an elder law attorney to draft up a will for them.
- Healthcare Plans: In the event that an elderly person becomes unable to take care of themselves, people can choose to make preparations in advance. This could be in the form of an Advance Care Directive, which outlines the medical care people would like to receive, and drafting a living will or giving someone the power of attorney, which allows someone to manage your financial affairs in case you are unable to do so.
- Social Security Issues: It is not uncommon for elderly people to rely on Social Security benefits during retirement. Issues applying for the benefits in the first place, ensuring they receive their benefits, or transferring benefits to a significant other may necessitate the help of an elder law attorney. Any of these applications, as well as an appeal of unfavorable decisions from the Social Security Administration, all fall under the umbrella of elder law.
What Are End of Life Issues?
While there is no easy way to address end of life issues, doing so sooner rather than later will help give everyone involved a peace of mind. Elder law attorneys can help you prepare for a multitude of issues that arise as you age, such as decisions that need to be made regarding finances and healthcare.
Some major healthcare issues elder care lawyers can help you address include:
- Advance Health Care Directive: This is a non-binding document that outlines how you want your healthcare to be handled in the event you are unable to communicate your own wishes. This is generally used in order to state what kind of treatment they would like to receive, such as if they would rather be in an elder care facility, or in a hospital. This type of document is not difficult to draft up, and leaves some flexibility in the event that a doctor objects to your wishes.
- Living Will: This essentially outlines the same healthcare directions as an Advance Health Care Directive, only it is a binding document. A living will is beneficial in terms of stating at what stage they would like doctors to withhold medical care, or if they would like their doctors to use any means necessary in order to prolong their life. With a living will, your doctors are legally obligated to follow your medical instructions.
- Power of Attorney for Healthcare: In the event that you do not wish to make your own decisions regarding your end of life healthcare decisions, you can opt to appoint a power of attorney for healthcare. This essentially gives another person the power to make medical decisions on your behalf. An elder law attorney can draft a power of attorney for healthcare that outlines your wishes similar to a living will or an advance health care directive.
Some major financial issues elder care lawyers can help you address include:
- Durable Financial Power of Attorney: If you get to the point where you are unable to manage your finances, an appointed person will be able to manage them for you. They will be able to pay your bills, manage your investments and real estate, review your financial records, collect any retirement benefits, purchase insurance for you, and handle your taxes in your name.
- Living Trust: This will put together whatever property is placed into it to be managed by a named trustee. Since trusts are flexible things, you are able to outline how things should be done in the trust instrument, as well as appoint someone to manage it on your behalf.
What Are Advance Directives?
Considered one of the most important things you can do in the event you are not able to make medical decisions on your own, an Advance Directive will ensure your doctors and family members are aware of the type of medical care you wish to receive.
Essentially, Advance Directives give the elderly the opportunity to make their wishes known about the type of medical treatments they want, and help point the people in charge of their healthcare in the right direction regarding which healthcare decisions to make on their behalf before a situation arises where they are not able to do so. These are also useful in emergency medical situations or towards the end of an elderly person’s life.
The two main types of Advance Directives include the healthcare power of attorney and the living will. Elder law varies from state to state, with some states allowing family members to make healthcare decisions for their incapacitated elderly loved ones, while others need clear evidence of what the person wants for their medical care.
Advance directives generally become effective in most states where one or more doctors confirm that you are in a condition that is specified in a state’s living will law, not in a state to make healthcare decisions on your own, or you meet other applicable state requirements.
How Do I Report Elder Abuse?
When it comes to elder law, a common issue families seek legal help for is elder abuse. Not limited to physical abuse, elder abuse can include the following:
- Emotional abuse
- Financial exploitation
- Sexual abuse
- Nursing Home Abuse
- Wrongful Death
Knowing what to look for can help you identify and report cases of elder abuse. If you suspect your elderly loved one is not being treated the way they should, then one of the most important things you can do is report it immediately. By failing to do so, you run the risk of causing irreparable damage to the victim’s assets or health. If you suspect a case of elder abuse, you should speak with an elder care lawyer who can advise you on any legal options that may be available to the elderly victim.