Page Reviewed / Updated – January 08, 2021

The decision to hire an elder care attorney could be one of the greatest financial safeguards a person can make in their life. Perhaps they are about to enter into an assisted living facility or maybe they are anticipating the eventual division and relinquishing of their assets and estate. Regardless of the circumstances, planning for the future is always important, but it’s especially important for seniors. Deciding how their money will be spent during their remaining time and how their assets will be distributed upon their eventual passing requires a secure strategy.

Read on to learn when to hire an elder care attorney and potential issues seniors may encounter.

What Is an Elder Care Attorney?

An elder care attorney helps seniors protect their rights as they age and helps them navigate the legal issues that occur during their golden years. They can help with Medicaid and advanced long-term care planning to help protect seniors’ homes and various assets. Paying for long-term care out of pocket can be financially draining, but an elder care attorney can help to mitigate those out-of-pocket expenses as well as help with financial planning.

Choosing a power of attorney, someone designated as the main authority to help decide how and where money is spent, can be difficult, and an elder care attorney can help. They can also assist with estate planning by setting up a health proxy, someone who can handle health wishes should a senior ever become unable to speak for themselves. An elder law attorney can also help with wills, structuring them in a way that’s specifically tailored to senior citizens. Lastly, they can set up trusts, creating caregiver agreements and proceeding with guardianship. This list of elder care attorney services is not exhaustive but covers common ways these attorneys can help seniors.

When Should I Hire an Elder Care Attorney?

Deciding on the correct time to hire an elder care attorney is something that people should plan on doing before they actually need one. The sooner the attorney is hired, the sooner affairs can be in order. Waiting to hire an attorney until one is definitely needed, such as when a senior is about to go into an assisted living facility or nursing home could put the senior at a disadvantage. It may be too late to gain all the advantages elder care attorneys offer, such as financial planning. If the basics are covered, small updates are possible instead of expensive last-minute planning sessions.

What Services Does an Elder Care Attorney Offer?

There are various services that an elder care attorney offers. Here are a few of the most common services that they offer and how they may be relevant to seniors.

  • Planning and Managing Services for Long-Term Care: This includes compiling financial information, insurance and assets. This also includes evaluating medical and housing needs as well as evaluating and implementing estate planning. Geriatric care, financial planning and tax preparation are all just a few of the services that fall into this category.
  • Medicaid Planning and Eligibility: Elder care attorneys can help dispel the confusion a senior may have about Medicare. They can show how income levels and current assets may affect future benefits.
  • Guardianships and Conservatorships: A conservatorship is a process where a judge appoints one person to manage another’s financial affairs. The appointee is also known as a guardian. This process is particularly useful for those who are no longer able to take care of themselves, such those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s. An elder care attorney can help guide family members through the process of obtaining guardianship.
  • Estate, Trust and Probate Administration: This service not only benefits the estate holder but also those designated as trustees or executors. An elder care attorney can also help to demystify the rights and responsibilities of those who have fiduciary duties.
  • Estate and Disability Planning and Preparedness: Seniors may have questions regarding how their will will impact family members and taxes and other legal issues. An elder care attorney will answer all questions related to estate issues.

Continuation of Benefits With Special Needs Trusts

Setting up a special needs trust can help to prepare for lifestyle expenses or other potential needs that public assistance benefits such as Medicaid, Social Security Insurance (SSI) and Section 8 housing may not cover.

Potential trusts may include:

  • Dental care
  • Vacations
  • Telephone services
  • Housekeeping
  • Personal items
  • Luxuries
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Training
  • Entertainment
  • Education

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Is an Elder Care Attorney Right for You?

Making the decision the hire an elder care attorney may seem daunting at first, but in the end, it is one of the smartest decisions a person can make. Knowing that financial and legal issues will be taken care of in a senior’s absence can go a long way in providing peace of mind and assuredness for family members.

Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator

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  • Search over 400 Programs