Here are the top 10 reasons to see an elder law attorney:
10. You are thinking of moving to a retirement community.
9. Someone told you a nursing home will take everything you own.
8. Your accountant told you that you can give away gifts of up to $15,000 each this year without consequences.
7. You want to preserve the family home.
6. You have a loved one with special needs.
5. You hope one day to leave your hard-earned assets to others of your own choosing.
4. You have freely shared money with your loved ones and your level of independence is changing (or you are the recipient of money from an older adult who is facing increased care needs).
3. You want to have a say in who will help you manage your affairs if you become unable to handle them yourself.
2. You don’t understand the long-term care system and you or a loved one is becoming frail.
1. You are a caregiver for a loved one.
For many people, the concept of elder law only includes planning before one dies and managing all of the paperwork after one dies. In fact, some elder law attorneys do much more.
Their focus on the unique needs of older adults and their families involves complex issues such as those listed above. Elder law attorneys who provide comprehensive and holistic services understand the dynamics of aging and the resulting moral and social implications that can affect family relationships, decision-making and planning. Sometimes, the emotional support that is available is just as valuable as the legal advice.
Do any of the 10 situations listed above apply to you? When seeking assistance, be sure to research the qualifications of the attorney you plan to hire.
Many attorneys advertise that they practice elder law and provide services related to long-term care planning, wills, disability/special needs planning, public benefits (including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security), retirement planning, powers of attorney and guardianship, and estate administration. However, the extent of these services can vary significantly.
The National Elder Law Foundation (www.nelf.org) is a resource that will guide you to certified elder law attorneys. Attorneys who are certified in elder law have met specific criteria that indicate that they have knowledge and experience related to the spectrum of issues that can occur with older adults and their families.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (www.naela.org) can also help you locate an elder law attorney in your area. Beyond an internet search, consider the experiences of people you know who have worked with an elder law attorney, since they can provide valuable insight into the personality of a particular attorney or an entire practice.