What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

Aug 21, 2021 | Elder Law, Estate Planning, Trusts

We are living in a time when technological advances make it hard for many of us, especially the elderly population, to keep up. 

Unfortunately, not every older adult has someone close to them to help navigate changes. This accessibility issue became even more evident during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic when many members of the elderly population did not have the access they needed to sign up for vaccinations. 

Today, we’ll take a look at what an Elder Law Attorney does and how they can help you or your loved one navigate the complicated legal processes that pertain to our golden years.

Why Do You Need An Elder Law Attorney?

Many complex issues are specific to the elderly population. Simple matters can become complicated when not understood or managed promptly. 

When a person is younger, there are many resources available to help navigate through life. For example, you have work and work-related resources, family groups, numerous friendships, and more. But as we age, there are often fewer options to get the assistance needed. 

Additionally, the needs of elderly individuals can be complex. Consulting with an attorney specializing in elder law is an excellent option to help navigate these processes.

What Does An Elder Law Attorney Do?

The first thing the elder law attorney will do is determine what the needs of the individual are. Of course, concerns vary, so this all starts with a consultation that evaluates the client’s needs. 

The transition to Medicaid can be difficult without help, and is often the first interaction with an elder law attorney. There are so many rules and regulations with Medicaid, and it can often be too complex for those without a law degree to even begin to navigate. 

Elder law aims to preserve an individual’s assets, such as their accounts, property, and income while they are still alive. These legal needs are different from estate planning, although both legal capacities can assist the elderly through appropriate planning.

An Elder Law Attorney Can Assist in 8 Legal Areas

1. Medicaid And Medicare

There are different types of Medicaid benefits. Not only can Medicaid help the elderly, but there are programs to assist low-income families as well. Additionally,  Medicare is available for all individuals 65 and over. They are different, though often confused. Focusing on elder care is very complex and having a legal expert in this area is very helpful.

Medicaid benefits vary by state, but for the most part, the services are used for nursing home care, assisted living care, in-home care, and adult day care. Eligibility is not simple and depends on marital status, income, assets, location, and more.

2. Estate Planning

Estate planning allows the elderly to plan for and arrange their assets for their beneficiaries while still living. This planning process involves working with an attorney to determine all manageable assets and the best method for their protection and distribution.

3. Wills

A will can include the estate plan, but the planning process also includes creating the will, where it is stored, who knows it is there, and how accessible it is. Accessibility is important because, over time, the will may require periodic updates to beneficiaries, circumstances, and more. Your attorney can help notify you of how these changes should be implemented and how they affect any other areas of your estate planning.

4. Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document allowing someone else to make certain decisions on your behalf. In this situation, a senior would choose who can make these crucial decisions in their place, should the time ever come when it is necessary. These decisions could include financial decisions and medical decisions, as there are separate powers of attorney for each. In addition, a durable power of attorney would be necessary if the senior becomes incapacitated.

5. Elder Abuse and Fraud

Unfortunately, we are living in a time with scammers who always seem to be one step ahead. This uncertainty is especially true for the elderly, who may be disproportionately targeted due to their age, as scammers often speak authoritatively and make false threats based on technological concepts they might not be familiar with. 

Likewise, elder abuse is an ongoing problem, with several instances occurring in elder care homes and even by family members. It is estimated that over 1 in 10 American adults over 60 has experienced elder abuse.

6. Gift Tax

Legally, certain people can be gifted money, and these gifts have legal limits. These legal limits to dollar amounts are adjusted periodically, keeping up with some relationship to inflation. Making legal gifts within the allowable limits protects them from inheritance tax.

7. Guardianship

Elderly guardianship is a legal relationship authorized by the courts when an older adult can no longer handle specific duties and responsibilities.

8. Living Will

This type of a will details medical decisions the person wishes to be made if there comes a time when they become incapacitated and can no longer give informed consent. It can contain advance directives. In addition, a living will addresses specific medical conditions and provisions for when a person is terminally ill.

ProvenLaw Can Help With Elder Law Concerns

There are many more options for protecting your assets. Only an attorney can help you determine which is right for you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. 

ProvenLaw is a legal group providing trust, estate, tax planning and litigation, probate and trust administration, elder law services, and business succession planning in Utah. 

We exceed client expectations by offering unmatched expertise, client service, and quality work. With over 90 years of combined experience, our attorneys and staff have the skills, knowledge, and experience to fulfill your legal needs. You are more than just another client; you are our number one priority.

Contact us today to discuss your asset protection options.

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