Elder Law and Senior Living Communities
There are many factors to consider when it comes to yourself or a loved one and being prepared from a legal standpoint as we age or move into senior living.
What is “elder law”?
Elder law attorneys help seniors navigate the legal and financial complexities of aging, which include issues such as power of attorney, guardianships, conservatorships, and probate law. There are several practices that fall under elder law, including the following:
- Estate Planning
An elder law attorney specializes in a range of legal services related to estate planning, including preparing wills, trusts, health care directives and powers of attorney. An elder law attorney can help an individual understand the legal complexities of estate planning and help them make decisions that will benefit them in the long term.
- Asset Protection
Helping protect seniors and their families from financial harm or loss is a key service of an elder law attorney. They can also help seniors with asset protection strategies such as trusts and other legal documents, as well as helping them navigate the complex tax and legal regulations that govern retirement benefits such as Social Security and Medicare.
- Medicaid Planning
Having assistance in navigating the complexities of the Medicaid system is another service offered by an elder law attorney. This typically involves creating a plan to preserve assets and income while still qualifying for Medicaid benefits. Assistance includes creating a trust, gifting assets, or transferring assets to a family member. Additionally, elder law Medicaid planning can involve the selection of an appropriate long-term care option, such as an assisted living facility or nursing home, that best meets the individual’s needs and financial situation.
- Long-term Care Planning
For long-term care planning, an elder law attorney focuses on the care and financial needs of elderly and disabled individuals. It involves creating a plan to ensure their legal and financial needs are met long-term, including things like estate planning, Medicaid planning, and creating guardianships and powers of attorney. It also involves helping families navigate the many laws and regulations related to the care of elderly and disabled individuals.
- Special Needs Planning
Assistance by an elder law attorney can center on individuals with special needs, such as those with physical or mental impairments, developmental disabilities, or chronic health conditions. This type of planning ensures that those individuals have a secure financial future, receive the necessary services and support, and have access to appropriate accommodations. Special needs planning includes drafting documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney and guardianships, as well as developing strategies for addressing long-term care, government benefits, and other legal issues.
Why do I need an elder law attorney?
In addition to the above, elder law attorneys provide advice and representation to assist in protecting seniors from individuals or family members that may be taking advantage them. This includes assisting seniors in understanding their legal rights and acting on their own behalf in court. Elder law attorneys can help seniors protect their assets, enforce their rights, and recognize potential scams. They can also provide legal advice and representation in cases involving undue influence, financial exploitation and guardianship.
Learn more about the benefits of an elder law attorney here.
Common Frequently Asked Questions
When should I contact an elder law attorney?
It's suggested to see an elder law attorney at the age of 60. This is a great time to get your affairs in order or protect assets from potential lawsuits. There's even an advantage to doing this at a younger age, setting up an estate plan to protect young children.
I have Power of Attorney for my parent. When does this become effective and what decisions am I able to make?
Your power of attorney (POA) becomes effective when your parent is incapacitated and can no longer make decisions on their own. When this happens, having Financial Power of Attorney would allow you to make the financial decisions on their behalf, and having health care power of attorney would allow you to make decisions related to their health care.
What is the difference between a medical and financial power of attorney?
A medical power of attorney is a legal document that grants an individual the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of another person in the event of their disability or incapacitation. This form of power of attorney is also known as a health care proxy or health care power of attorney.
A financial power of attorney is a legal document that grants another person the authority to manage an individual’s financial and legal affairs in the event of their incapacity or disability. This form of power of attorney is also known as a durable power of attorney.
How often should I update Power of Attorney Papers?
While there isn’t a technical expiration date, it is recommended to update documents every 5 years.
My mother refuses to move into a memory care/assisted living community, but I know she needs to. What needs to be in place for this to happen?
In this situation, the only way to enforce a move would be to obtain guardianship/conservatorship over them. If they will not sign over to you willingly, you will need to obtain it through the court system. An elder law attorney can assist you with the proper steps to ensure your parent is getting the care they need.
The information provided on this FAQ sheet was completed with the help of the Rutkowski Law Firm Team. These are examples of the questions they receive most from the community regarding asset protection, estate planning and elder law, and does not represent specific legal advice. You should always consult an attorney before making any decisions regarding your planning. Call Rutkowski Law Firm today at (248) 791-9193 or visit their website for additional information: www.RutkowskiLawFirm.com
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