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In addition to the growth of the senior population, the financial, health, and legal needs of this demographic are also increasing rapidly. Because of this, it’s more important than ever to understand the value that elder law attorneys provide to the population.

Our senior community has very specific needs beyond basic legal services. These unique needs and legal matters can be complex and must be fully understood for the best interest of everyone involved. Elder law is a specialized area of law that focuses on these unique needs. The expertise provided by elder law professionals helps navigate all matters that coincide with aging, allowing seniors to maximize their resources and make the most out of their later years.

The Role of the Elder Law Attorney

Elder law attorneys help aging Americans legally navigate matters that arise simply due to the aging process. They have the ability to facilitate difficult family conversations, prepare legal documents, provide financial guidance, and help plan for the unexpected. There are many areas where elder law attorneys can help. Common services provided by elder law attorneys include the following.

Estate Planning

An estate plan is a legally binding set of documents that provide instructions on how to manage and transfer your estate after you die. It also protects your wishes surrounding any medical or end-of-life care and preferences pertaining to your funeral or burial.

An estate plan can be as detailed as you want. It can even include sentimental letters to your loved ones. However, it is typically composed of five essential parts.

  1. Will
  2. Living will
  3. Health care power of attorney
  4. Financial power of attorney
  5. Trust

Elder law attorneys help navigate and construct your estate plan. They ensure that all necessary information is included and that documents are properly prepared, so your assets and wishes are protected before and after you die.

Government Benefits

Whether you are a veteran applying for VA benefits or a citizen looking into government assistance or resources, it is helpful to have the guidance of an elder law attorney. There are many benefits available, which all come with different qualifications. Understanding which you qualify for and how to maximize each benefit can be confusing. Elder law attorneys make applying for benefits a seamless process and will help to make sure you are receiving all that you are entitled to as quickly as possible.

Retirement Planning

It’s never too early to begin retirement planning. Therefore, you are never too young to begin working with an elder law attorney. There are many options when it comes to retirement. Elder law professionals help you understand all available options and then choose the solution that suits your specific needs and goals. They look at factors such as finances and overall health to help you plan for a successful retirement.

Medicare and Medicaid

While Medicaid should be simple, the reality is that government programs are notoriously complicated. Sometimes the only way to receive medical care is through a combination of Medicare and Medicaid. For example, someone diagnosed with dementia may use Medicare to cover healthcare costs for regular doctor visits and short-term medical needs until they require long-term care in a nursing home. The cost of nursing home care is very high, and qualifying for Medicaid can offset this cost; however, many do not qualify for benefits at first glance. Elder law attorneys are knowledgeable in Medicare and Medicaid law and know what each program covers. If proper planning is done, an elder law professional may have a creative legal strategy that allows you to qualify for Medicaid benefits when you or a loved one eventually need long-term care services.

Elder Abuse

While we don’t like to think about abuse and crimes committed against our seniors, it is important to be aware. One in ten senior Americans will fall victim to elder abuse at some point. In the event of abuse, elder law attorneys can offer resources to the family and victim and provide legal counsel if needed.

Financial planning and Asset Protection

Elder law attorneys provide guidance on how to build a solid financial foundation. They may help with matters pertaining to savings accounts, investments, asset protection, and risk management to help secure your future finances.

By understanding elder law, we become more aware of the benefits and resources available when we age. Consequently, this will help us maximize our resources and make the most of our elder years. Being aware also will allow us to help our loved ones obtain optimum benefits for themselves, which in turn helps the entire family.
This article offers a summary of aspects of estate planning law. It is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For assistance, please contact our Natchez office at (601) 445-5011.

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