Elder law attorneys can help with wills as well as with other estate-planning activities. They provide seniors and their caregivers with advice on wills, and they can write a will on behalf of a client. Creating a will ensures that the client’s desires for their estate happen after they pass, and it makes the process easier for their heirs after they’re gone.
Wills are legal documents that spell out how to distribute the person’s belongings after they pass away. If the person has dependents, such as children or disabled adults who rely on them for care, the will names guardians for those dependents. Having a will in place avoids a lengthy probate process where the state decides what happens to the estate. While it’s possible to create a DIY will, using an elder care attorney can avoid potential mistakes and issues that could delay distributing the estate.
Attorneys who provide elder law services offer advice to clients about creating wills. They can discuss the importance of wills and how they fit into the overall estate-planning process. Elder law attorneys can also provide customized advice based on the client’s situation, such as wills for seniors with special needs. Clients can share their concerns, such as avoiding probate, protecting a family business, minimizing taxation on the estate and securing care for a disabled dependent, so the attorney can create solutions for those situations. The attorney takes that information and writes a legally sound will to express those wishes. Elder law attorneys can also help clients set up trusts when that’s a better option for handling the estate.
Elder law attorneys also typically work with living wills, which are different than regular wills. A living will focuses on the medical wishes of the individual if that person can no longer make decisions on their own. This legal document lists which medical procedures the person wants or doesn’t want to help keep them alive. For example, some people might only want comfort care at the end of their lives. They might include in the living will that they don’t want doctors to perform CPR, use mechanical ventilation or keep them alive with tube feeding if it would just prolong the death process.
Attorneys working in elder law also provide other legal services. Their goal is to serve as an advocate for older adults by assisting with legal issues related to aging. Elder law services often relate to health care decisions, long-term care, estate planning and guardianship. An elder law attorney can help a senior create a comprehensive plan to protect their finances and make sure their medical and care wishes are carried out as they age and rely on others for care.