If you’re like us, you probably look forward to entering your golden years. After all, the average American wishes to stop working at 62 years of age and enjoy retirement in peace.
But the older you get, the likelier you are to be impacted by legal issues involving aging. This can include anything from property disputes to possible incapacity. Advanced age can also force you to make decisions about medical and end-of-life concerns.
Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate these waters alone. A seasoned elder law attorney can offer guidance on matters concerning the elderly, their families and caregivers, adults with special needs, as well as long-term care and estate planning.
How an Elder Law Attorney Can Come to Your Aid
An elder law attorney typically ensures the needs of seniors are met, either now or later on. Working alongside a competent lawyer can secure your future, no questions asked.
Here are a few other ways an elder law attorney can help you.
1. Qualifying for a Durable Power of Attorney
In case your loved one has a mental health condition, you might worry about their ability to decide for themselves. An elder law attorney will work with you and your family to prepare a durable power of attorney who can make medical or financial decisions in their stead.
For incapacitated family members without a durable power of attorney, a lawyer will help kickstart guardianship proceedings to allow another family member to handle their personal/financial affairs.
2. Setting Up an Estate Plan
Whether you have a modest bank account or a long list of assets, estate planning is difficult. But since you must put your affairs in order as you age, creating wills and trusts lets you control what happens to your legacy after you pass.
Remember, an estate plan is more than just a series of documents. There are plenty of moving parts to the process, such as:
- Planning for guardianship
- Managing 401(k)s and IRAs
- Overall management of personal business
Since handling all this alone can be exhausting, you should consider consulting an elder law attorney specializing in estate planning. They can walk you through the decisions and tax implications of managing/settling your assets.
3. Assisting with Medicaid
Let’s face it: long-term care is expensive. And for many Americans, it is a must-have. As your health declines, you might need to move in with a loved one, enroll in an assisted care facility, or reside in a nursing home. Planning for this in the present can make the transition easier.
In this regard, you can look into long-term care insurance like Medicaid to cover the costs. Medicaid is a federal program offering healthcare benefits to low-income adults, pregnant women, children, people with special needs, and elderly adults. As of 2022, over 89 million Americans signed up for their state Medicaid and CHIP programs.
Medicaid eligibility depends on your financial assets and the cost of medical treatments you need. An elder law attorney familiar with Medicaid can help you and your family apply for benefits.
But even before an attorney helps you verify your income and assets, they can advise you on whether Medicaid is appropriate for your future. Different seniors require different solutions, and the last thing you want is to get stuck in a program that does not benefit you.
4. Shielding Against Elder Abuse
Senior abuse can sound far-fetched on paper, but it is an ugly reality of the modern world. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced abuse in community settings over the past year.
Elder abuse covers a wide range of physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment. It can also happen if you are neglected or abandoned. In some cases, years may pass before someone notices the violence and ends it for good.
Needless to say, you deserve to be safe and well-cared for. Attorneys for elder law can help you contact the proper authorities, recoup some of the lost finances, and transfer into a protected environment without delay.
5. Protecting Assets from Financial Exploitation
Picture this, your aging parents in another state accuse their seemingly well-meaning neighbor of stealing funds. Or, a long-lost, unscrupulous cousin suddenly volunteers to care for their bedridden parent. Suspicious, isn’t it? Based on the circumstances, this may hint toward financial exploitation.
Elderly people are easy victims of financial fraud. While this abuse is almost always expected from adult children, it can also occur in nursing homes, from financial caregivers, or in an assisted care facility.
Also, senior financial exploitation isn’t always obvious. Abusers may do things that are less easy to spot, such as tricking a resident into signing forms that transfer ownership of bank accounts and investments without their knowledge.
Because recovering from financial exploitation can be a long and tedious affair, it’s best to prevent it at the get-go. A certified elder law attorney will enable you to identify risky situations that could lead to financial abuse. They’ll assist you in protecting your assets from dishonest predators and report potentially criminal activity to the authorities.
6. Assisting with Grandparents’ Visitation Rights
It’s common for families to not see eye to eye. And when this happens, it can sever the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.
Grandparents can lose their right to see and partake in their grandchildren’s lives due to the death of a parent, divorce, or bitter disagreements. However, an elder law attorney in Utah can explain your privileges and find a way for you to carry on a healthy, loving relationship with your grandchildren.
The Bottom Line
Elder law attorneys work as advocates for seniors and their loved ones. With a trusted lawyer on your side, you know your assets are in good hands. Hopefully, this post has given you a fair idea of what elder law attorneys do and how they can help you prepare for a better tomorrow.
Do you need an elder law attorney in Layton? Contact the team at Jeremy Atwood! Our lawyers can offer the insight and legal support you need to make sound end-of-life decisions. For more information, call us today!