Growing old can be a difficult process, as most individuals go through some stages of natural decline before they pass away. Unfortunately, despite these years being referred to as the golden years, each stage can also come with some complicated legal issues. Oftentimes, a person will turn to an attorney they have used for other matters throughout his or her lifetime or simply ask a friend or family member for an attorney referral, but did you know the legal issues relating to aging are quite complicated? Let us review three reasons why you need an experienced elder law attorney.
First, an elder law attorney can help you with issues you may face before death. Although it may be difficult to think about and plan for your decline and eventual passing, it is something we all should face, and ultimately preparing for it can be a gift to your remaining friends and family members. Estate planning, or preparing a will or trust, can help assure your estate passes to the people of your choosing. A qualified elder law attorney can also draft your estate planning documents with the goal of asset preservation by drafting the documents to provide the lowest level of tax liability.
After reviewing your overall financial picture, an elder law attorney can also consider your Medicaid eligibility and conduct planning around it. Often people may be under the false belief that Medicare will cover a nursing home, should one become necessary. Medicare, however, only covers one-hundred days in a nursing home and then, the nursing home bill must be paid for by Medicaid, long-term care insurance or private pay. As private pay for a nursing home can quickly eat through someone’s assets, an elder law attorney can advise you on your ability to obtain long-term care insurance or how to create a trust, which will both protect your assets and may allow you to be eligible for Medicaid to cover the cost of a nursing home.
Additionally, some older people suddenly lose their mental capacity by virtue of a stroke or other medical condition. An elder law attorney can assist you in developing a contingency plan to handle your financial and medical decisions should this happen to you. This will likely involve durable powers of attorney or be included as a part of your trust.
Second, an elder law attorney can also help address issues after death. Following your passing, a qualified elder law attorney can assist with both the administration of your estate or probate, if necessary.
Third, you may also find benefits of a holistic approach in an elder law attorney. Growing older and the associated challenges with aging can be a very emotional time for elders and their family members. Experienced elder law attorneys may be adept with the law, but they also understand the social and emotional issues and may serve as a trusted guide for you and your family members.
It is never too soon to consult with an elder law attorney to put a plan in place for your golden years. Having a plan for managing the legal issues associated with aging will allow the golden in your golden years to continue to shine. Our office is here to help. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting time.
It may be the worst nightmare for your parents or other senior loved one. After a lifetime of hard work and savings, the need for a nursing home may cause them to lose it all. While planning for long-term care may be best done before the care is indicated, that is not always possible. Sometimes an abrupt medical event or an unforeseen accident may result in a senior being placed in a nursing home, or perhaps, the senior was unaware of the necessity of long-term care planning. So, how can you help Florida seniors protect themselves, when entering a nursing home?
If the senior owns a home and Medicaid assists with the cost of a nursing home, following the senior’s passing, Medicaid may place a lien against the home, also known as “estate recovery,” for the cost paid out for the nursing home. If the senior owns a home and Medicaid is contributing to the cost of the nursing home, it may be important for the senior and/or family members to consult an elder law attorney as soon as possible after placement in the nursing home. There are some situations, which may prevent estate recovery, such as a spouse residing in the home, or a disabled child. In some instances, the senior may be able to transfer the home without creating a situation of Medicaid ineligibility.
Unfortunately, seniors who enter nursing homes can also become victims of financial elder abuse via less than honest employees, who obtain their personal information. Seniors should be instructed not to log into personal accounts from shared computers to avoid having personal information stolen. Some nursing homes offer banking services. Residents who bank with the nursing home, however, may unknowingly have funds withdrawn from their account. Another risk is that when pension and social security checks are mailed directly to a facility, they may be stolen. The nursing home is supposed to deposit such checks in a trust account and use them to pay the resident’s bills, but there have been instances where the funds were misappropriated. Not only is the resident out the money, but if his or her nursing home bill is not paid, the resident may be forced to leave the facility, as well. Thus, when a Florida senior enters a nursing home, it may be best to have a trusted friend or relative appointed as the durable power of attorney and to keep the senior’s private funds separate. The power of attorney can oversee the senior’s finances and help ensure that no suspect transactions are occurring.
In general, if you know a senior, who has entered a nursing home, it can be a good idea to meet the staff of the nursing home and visit frequently. Our office can assist with creating the proper documents to protect the senior’s assets and to safeguard them from the potential of financial abuse. Please reach out to our office today to schedule a meeting.