According to census info, there are now 40.3 million seniors over 65 in the US.
If you are a senior or have a senior family member, there’s a good chance that you need an elder law attorney.
Elder law attorneys provide several indispensable services to seniors. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the crucial role that elder law attorneys can play.
One’s golden years are often fraught with issues around care, finances, and disability. As one gets older, we also become more vulnerable to violations of our rights.
Elder law is a specialized area that caters to the rights and interests of seniors and the elderly. There are many instances where an elder law lawyer can offer valuable and—in some cases—life-changing help.
Unsure whether you need an elder care attorney? If the answer is yes, keep reading as we get into 12 reasons why you might need the services of an elder law lawyer.
1. You Need Advice on Long Term Care
If you are a senior or are assisting a senior family member, one of the most difficult decisions to navigate is long term care solutions.
According to reports, 76% of seniors prefer not to leave their homes and would rather age in place. This preference isn’t always shared by younger family members who might prefer to know their loved one is taken care of in a facility.
In some cases, this can result in tension and a battle of wills. An elder law attorney can act as an unbiased, informed mediator in these situations. Because they typically deal with many elderly people and frequently encounter this issue, they can draw from their experience to provide qualified advice on the best solution.
Elder law attorneys frequently deal with clients who require care or suffer from chronic conditions. This experience will give them additional insight into your cases and allow them to predict what type of care will be necessary in the future.
If the elder law lawyer helps you determine that a senior would be happier and more comfortable at home, they can further assist in sourcing comprehensive at-home care. In many cases, the elder law attorney you’re working with might have an extensive network they can leverage to find the right care.
On the other hand, if you need to make other arrangements, an elder law attorney can also help in finding an eldercare facility. When selecting a facility, it’s absolutely vital that you pick the right one.
Quality of care is an important factor. However, the costs of long-term care can often be exorbitant. Elder law attorneys can help families conserve their resources while still accessing comprehensive care.
Besides this, they can also provide invaluable help around reviewing contracts and other legal areas associated with caregiving arrangements.
2. You’ve Been Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness
According to the CDC, 85% of older adults suffer from at least one chronic health condition. A further 60% have two or more chronic conditions.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic condition, this can be an important reason to seek the services of an elder law attorney.
Chronic health conditions can be very costly to treat over the long term. What’s more, chronic conditions usually come with additional care needs. Navigating the costs associated with treatment and care can be difficult for a lot of families.
An elder care attorney can assist you in finding cost-effective care solutions. They can also assess what aid you might be eligible for, and help seniors get into Medicaid programs.
3. Establishing a Good Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Setting up a good financial power of attorney (POA) is something that becomes essential as you get older. If you are unfamiliar with the term, power of attorney is where you give someone the authority to sign and act on your behalf.
This is very important for situations where you cannot speak or act for yourself. Setting up a POA is wise at any age, as any of us could become incapacitated in a moment.
However, establishing power of attorney is crucial for seniors, as the chances of something happening are usually greater.
Giving someone financial power of attorney authorizes them to carry out critical financial actions for you, such as:
- Managing bank transactions
- Filing your taxes
- Collecting any benefits
- Managing retirement accounts in your name
- Paying monthly or daily expenses
- Buying, selling and managing insurance policies in your name
- Transferring assets into a trust
Once you bestow durable power of attorney to someone, they can then control your finances. While this is a good thing if you become incapacitated, you must choose the right party on which to bestow POA.
An elder care attorney can advise you on who to select and draw up the correct documents.
It’s essential that you specifically use an elder care attorney for this process. Also, while one can obtain POA forms from one’s bank, the internet, or a stationery shop—using these forms aren’t a good option and could affect your rights in unexpected and undesirable ways.
4. You Need Assistance With Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security Appeals and Claims
Do you need help applying for Medicaid?
If so, an elder law attorney is the ideal person to speak to. Most elder care attorneys have extensive experience in dealing with Medicaid applications and Medicaid issues.
Although Medicaid is designed to help the elderly in need, it has very stringent eligibility requirements. These requirements are asset and income-based. If your income is above a certain threshold or the value of your assets is too high, they will turn down your application.
What’s more, Medicaid spend down rules disallow you from giving away or disposing of assets purely to qualify for the program. They also have what is known as their “5-year look back” period, where they evaluate your finances to determine whether you can qualify.
These stipulations can make Medicaid applications very difficult, even for those that really need the aid. Fortunately, an elder law attorney can often advise you on ways you can successfully apply, such as creating a qualified income trust.
Besides this, an elder law lawyer can also assist if you have Medicare claims issues. If you are trying to choose a Medicare plan, they will also be able to give qualified advice on this.
Lastly, an elder care attorney can also help you with social security appeals and claims assistance outside of Medicare.
5. You Want Financial Advice and Advocacy
If you a senior and need advice on financial matters, an elder law attorney may be the person to call. The same applies if you have a senior loved one that needs financial advocacy.
There are many times when financial advice and advocacy can be of great benefit. These include situations where there’s an unmanageable debt burden, financial mismanagement, and a scam happening.
Unfortunately, financial victimization of the elderly is common. Seniors are often more vulnerable to ploys, scams, and disadvantageous “deals.”
Scams abound these days, and seniors often don’t have the resources to avoid or combat them. What’s more, they can often be the victims of unsuitable credit offers.
In the case of disingenuous credit offers, an elder care lawyer can sometimes force the provider to clear the debt if it was offered in a way that compromises the receiver’s rights under elder care law.
Besides this, elder law attorneys can also work with you to establish sustainable financial planning, optimize care costs, and apply for government assistance. The financial security you can gain from this can be invaluable.
6. You’re Seeking Asset Management and Protection
As one gets older, managing your assets can become increasingly difficult. There may also be situations where you or your loved one requires asset protection from creditor claims.
Most states protect senior citizens from losing their possessions to credit claims. However, this doesn’t mean that creditors won’t try to hound seniors.
If you engage an attorney, the law stipulates that creditors may no longer contact you personally. Instead, they will need to communicate with your attorney. This can put a stop to a lot of stress and browbeating.
Besides dealing with creditors, an elder law attorney can advise you on which bills could be put on payment plans as a senior, such as utilities. They can also offer insights on which debts are the most important to focus on and how to prove you are unable to pay certain debts.
7. You Want an Estate Plan
If you need to carry out estate planning, this is another area where hiring an elder law attorney is vital. Estate planning is critical, especially once you become a senior. Even if you have already conducted estate planning and have a will, this needs to be reviewed, and potentially revised, regularly.
Without thorough estate planning, you or your family members could run into unforeseen issues down the line. Family members may not be properly taken cared for when you pass, and unexpected taxes could diminish your estate.
An elder law attorney is the ideal professional to help with your estate planning if you are a senior. They know the costs involved in long-term care and can guide you on how to plan for it.
They can also help you carry out tax planning to ensure that your estate is not subjected to unnecessary taxes.
8. You Require Help With Nursing Home Rights
If you or a senior family member are having disputes with a nursing home, an elder law lawyer is the best person to step in. They know exactly what your rights are and how to defend them. They also have the tools at their disposal to make the nursing home obey the law.
9. There’s a Need for Guardianship
When it’s necessary for a senior to have guardianship, an elder law attorney is once again the best person to turn to.
In many cases, this happens when a senior becomes incapacitated and does not have a durable power of attorney in place. In this instance, an elder law lawyer can work with you to carry out the guardianship proceedings. This will allow you or another guardian to take responsibility for your loved one’s financial and personal affairs.
10. There’s Abuse
Have you as a senior (or a senior loved one) been the victim of abuse? If you’re dealing with a case of abuse, an elder law attorney can work with you to seek justice.
They are versed in the rights of the elderly and can help you gather evidence to support a claim. In some cases, there may be civil damages you can recoup to cover physical, emotional, or financial injury.
11. Family Members Are Taking Advantage
If family members are taking advantage of a senior, this has to be addressed. Unfortunately, if someone within the family does this, it can often either be ineffective or create further issues.
An elder law attorney is a great professional to bring in, as they will be able to advocate for the senior. The family member at fault will often heed an attorney’s input far more than other family members, as they are an expert and a disinterested party.
12. Scamming Has Taken Place
Research shows that the elderly are increasingly targeted in online scams. If you or a senior loved one has fallen victim to a scam, it’s essential that you seek help as soon as possible.
An elder law attorney can help you fight back and, in some cases, bring the culprit to justice and recover your money. At the very least, they will protect you from being further taken advantage of.
Do You Need an Elder Law Attorney?
Elder law is a specialized area and not one that most attorneys understand. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance, financial advice, then an elder law attorney is the person to call.
They can help in numerous areas, including estate planning, long-term care plans, and government assistance applications.
If you need an elder care attorney, we specialize in representing and assisting seniors and are experts in elder law. Instead of searching “elder law attorneys near me,” contact us for a free consultation.