Elder Law is a specialized area of legal practice that focuses on the type of client served rather than on the specific legal question involved.
An Elder Law Attorney has a practice centered around the issues that impact older adults and people with disabilities. Because the Elder Law Attorney is committed to a type of client rather than a type of law, he or she implements a holistic approach.
What issues does an Elder Law Attorney handle?
An Elder Law Attorney can assist clients and families in planning for incapacity and long-term care. This can include general estate planning techniques, such as using wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Elder Law Attorneys may help with probate matters such as probating the estate of a deceased person or with guardianships and conservatorships.
Elder Law Attorneys also help with planning for and accessing government programs such as Medicaid coverage for skilled nursing or home care, VA benefits, and Social Security and disability benefits. They can assist clients with evaluating long-term care providers and insurance policies to help pay for long-term care.
Elder Law Attorneys also help families with special needs trusts, which benefit people who are on needs-based government programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, or VA Benefits.
Elder Law Attorneys are committed to advocating for older adults and people with disabilities, and to protecting these populations. An Elder Law Attorney can help prevent and address elder abuse, fraud, or financial exploitation.
Most of all, an Elder Law Attorney is there to help families navigate complex situations and to offer legal solutions that attend to a variety of concerns, including financial, housing, familial, emotional, and health issues.
Why is it important to use an Elder Law Attorney?
An Elder Law Attorney has insight into a how different areas of law interact and can impact the client. For example, an Elder Law Attorney can anticipate how estate planning may interact with needs-based programs, such as SSI and Medicaid.
Since these programs have income and/or asset limitations, an inheritance can over-resource and disqualify a recipient from these benefits. However, there are specific kinds of trusts that allow people to leave money to such family members without disqualifying them from those benefits.
What can happen if I don’t use an Elder Law Attorney?
Although the use of an Elder Law Attorney is not required, there can be unintended consequences for not using an attorney with this specialty. For example, an estate planning attorney, who is unfamiliar with Elder Law but who is a skilled estate planning attorney, may not advise against an older adult gifting money to family members.
While gifting may not be a bad idea from an estate planning perspective, especially if assets are below the annual estate tax exclusion amount, it may create a problem if Medicaid is needed to pay for nursing home care in the near future. This is because Medicaid imposes a penalty of a waiting period for gifts made within the last five years.
What are your estate goals?
Quinn Estate & Elder Law takes a holistic approach to helping people accomplish their estate goals. Are you confident that everything is in order? Want to know more? Call us today for a FREE ANALYSIS 636-428-3344.