Elder care law is complicated. It’s a specialized area of the law that requires attorneys to focus on issues that specifically impact older people, such as long term care planning, guardianship, power of attorney, Social Security, health care, and more.

Choosing the right elder care attorney is a key part of successfully navigating the complex issues pertinent to aging. What do you need to know when it’s time to make this decision?

How do you choose an elder care attorney?

There are a variety of factors that come into play when you need to choose an elder attorney. Of course, you want an elder care attorney with the knowledge and experience to answer any question that might arise. And you want an attorney who is sensitive to the fact that the matters in this field can be highly emotional. How do you find an attorney that fits all of these needs?

What should you ask an elder care attorney?

Here are a few questions you should ask a prospective elder care attorney before you commit to working with them.

  • Do You Have a Practice Focus?— Elder law is a particularly broad area of practice that covers many aspects. If you are choosing a lawyer that is specifically dedicated to elder law and nothing else, then they may be able to cover everything that you need to be taken care of.
  • Do You Cover the Entire Process?— Growing old is not just one issue. It is rarely just drafting a will and never speaking to your attorney again. As a loved one grows older, they may need legal representation for a variety of issues.
    • Does the elder law attorney go above and beyond just estate planning?
    • Do they help plan for long-term care?
    • Can they help set up guardianship?
    • Can they help in the event of elder abuse or financial elder abuse?

The best elder law attorneys will work with their clients and the families of those clients in order to make sure that you or your aging loved one is represented to the fullest and are legally cared for in their golden years.

  • How Long Does Setting Up a Plan to Care for an Elder Take?— Any good elder law attorney should be honest with you in this regard. Often, caring for an elder legally and financially takes some work. It is not just one visit to set everything up. Aspects like long-term care and estate planning may need to be adjusted over time and require multiple visits to sort out.
  • Can You Help With Probate?— Most elder law attorneys will help with estate planning and making sure your elder is cared for, and they will also work with you in the probate process. A good elder law attorney covers the process from start to finish— everything stays concise and organized. Additionally, a great elder law attorney will show you how to avoid probate all together.
  • How Can I Reach You If I Need Help?— Our office responds to emergency calls 24 hours a day. Other offices may or may not provide this type of attention. Make sure you inquire about evening and weekend emergency service.

For more information on elder law and choosing the best elder law attorney for your needs, contact us today.

What is a certified elder law attorney?

A certified elder law attorney is an attorney that’s been specially trained in elder law by an accrediting organization, such as the National Elder Law Foundation, or NELF.

What is NELF? (National Elder Law Foundation)

NELF, the National Elder Law Foundation, is the sole national organization that certifies practitioners of elder and special needs law.  With nearly 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys across the country, the NELF is proud to say that the number of attorneys earning this certification is growing steadily. When you work with an attorney that has the NELF certification, you can rest assured that they’re well-versed with the intricacies related to elder law and they’re up to date with the most current information.

Do you need an elder care attorney?

As you or your loved ones grow older, you might find that it becomes more difficult to navigate the intricate issues that elder Americans face. An elder care attorney is more than someone who helps you write your will. When you work with an elder care attorney, you get:

  • A specialist— Their practice concerns explicitly legal matters unique to elders. Elder law matters, the state recognizes it, and its laws are quite specific, and their administration may differ from one state to another. You need a lawyer to interpret these rules. Elder law attorneys apply their legal knowledge and practice to the benefit of their clients, the seniors. The lawyer addresses their concerns and safeguards their needs from a legal point of view. They identify anything or anyone that goes contrary to the statutory requirements and deal with it accordingly.
  • An experienced attorney—Elder care attorneys help prepare and validate all documents addressing legal concerns or with legal implications. They deal with the fine print on various processes and formalities such as Medicaid applications, legally validating the details in wills and trusts among other things that may bring contention.
  • A counselor—  Lawyers also help resolve complicated family issues and financial matters. They evaluate assets their ownership and inheritance issues. They address concerns as specific and complex as multiple businesses and real-estate assets in different states and legal jurisdictions. They sort out matters concerning second marriages, divorce, children or the lack thereof and the benefits and care they lay claim to, bereavement, incapacitation and other special needs. Legal counsel also helps you deal with other professionals and individuals that play significant roles in a senior’s life like their doctors, caregivers in nursing homes and former employers.

Do you need a lawyer to setup a power of attorney for an elderly parent?

This can be a challenging topic to broach with a parent. After all, no one wants to admit that they might not be independent and healthy forever. This is where an experienced elder care attorney can be helpful. They’ve got the knowledge and knowhow to help you create a power of attorney that’s customized to your particular situation with sensitivity to the emotions that charge this rite of passage.

How do you setup elderly guardianship?

Sometimes, when an elderly parent is unable to effectively and safely meet their health and wellness needs, it’s a sign that it’s time for a loved one to step in and provide the necessary care. The guardianship application process is rigorous, and requires judicial review. If you’re already working with an experienced elder care attorney who is familiar with your specific case, it will be that much easier to ensure that the process is completed in a timely fashion.

Do you need a lawyer to apply for Medicaid?

Technically, no. However, Medicaid applications are notoriously challenging. Why not consult an expert who’s intimately familiar with the ins and outs of Medicaid in your state before you turn the application in?

Do you need a lawyer to fight elder abuse?

It will certainly help. In addition to helping you report the incident (or incidents) to the appropriate authorities, an elder care lawyer can also help you recoup any damages for the losses associated with the elder abuse. Unfortunately, reporting elder abuse is a complicated process; an attorney can help you ensure that this won’t happen to someone else’s loved ones.

Do you need a medicaid trust?

Essentially, a Medicaid trust allows the grantor— the person to whom the assets belong— to transfer their assets into an irrevocable trust, which will be distributed per the grantor’s instructions after their death. The assets are available for the grantor’s use, but they don’t have control over them.

Medicaid can look back as far as five years to determine if you or your loved one will have to undergo a spend-down to qualify for their services. If, for instance, you transferred your home into a Medicaid trust four years ago, you might be forced to sell it to qualify for Medicaid.

Close to three-quarters of Americans over the age of 65 will require some form of long-term care assistance at some point. Even though long-term care isn’t on the horizon for you right now, it’s likely that you’ll need it eventually. Why not prepare for the inevitable? Forming this specific trust will simply dissociate you from your assets, enabling you to get the assistance you need as soon as you need it— without losing the assets you hope to pass on to loved ones some day.

Determining what’s right for yourself or your loved ones just gets harder over time. Working with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney with certification from a nationally recognized accreditation organization will ensure that you have a safety net in place before you need it.

Click here to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an expert in elder care law today.