The legal issues that older adults face are often more critical than those problems faced by any other segment of our population. It is important for elders to know their rights and seek advice from an elder law attorney Los Angeles professional when they need it. Don’t wait until a crisis to find a lawyer who specializes in legal planning for elders. Contacting one as you enter into your later years or as you begin your role as a caretaker can help you avoid aggravation and confusion down the road.
At McKenzie Legal & Financial, we specialize in the legal issues that affect elders and can help you prepare for situations that might occur. Our planning specialties include:
The care of the elderly was once a simple matter of family tradition. Due to the increasing complexity in matters of medical care, housing, legal management of assets and estate planning, the field known as elder law has grown considerably in just the last few decades. Matters of retirement and estate planning are now only small aspects of the larger body of concerns that many elder law attorneys in Los Angeles are addressing. They’re finding increasing importance not only to the elderly and their families, but to the various businesses that offer products and services to the elderly, as well as state governments that supervise the legal frameworks.
There are a multitude of requirements and restrictions that come into play when addressing questions like “who can hold a financial power of attorney?”, or “who can be a witness to a will?”. Since families are often spread out across several states, it can be difficult and frustrating to organize and consult legal counsel in one state, only to find the details and legal requirements for elder care and estate planning are completely different in another state. The simple act of drafting and executing the proper legal documents can be as much of a logistical problem as it may be a legal one.
It is with these things in mind that many families choose to consult an elder care attorney in Los Angeles, CA who specializes in the specific laws surrounding matters pertinent to the elderly and their loved ones.
First and foremost in the minds of families are provisions for the long-term care of their older relatives. Not only do financial matters have to be covered, but the legal and practical concerns must also be examined and organized in a manner that preserves wealth and protects the interests of their elderly family members. Simple matters of administering Social Security, military, pension or disability benefits can be baffling for those unfamiliar with the obscure and sometimes downright arcane rules and regulations.
A Los Angeles elder law attorney can help a family navigate the difficult and potentially dangerous process of untangling an elderly person’s financial situation while managing and providing for future decisions. Having someone who knows how to utilize today’s benefits and plan for the future at the same time is crucial for avoiding expensive mistakes and the numerous pitfalls of conflicting objectives.
Lawyers who practice in the elder law field are usually specialists who balance all the various issues and concerns while taking special initiatives to keep up with their knowledge of the latest trends. This is important because each change in the law presents both opportunities and hazards for every client. It is up to the attorney to find the best options for the long-term.
Housing and Care Facilities
While it might seem like something a family would normally do, a Los Angeles elder care attorney can be most helpful in finding and qualifying good long-term care facilities for their clientele. Making certain that Medicare benefits are properly claimed, that health care power of attorney is in place if necessary, and that family members are kept informed each step of the way is one of the most important and indispensable responsibilities of a professional legal advocate.
Some would argue – and with good reason – that the issues surrounding elder care begin with access to quality long-term housing and assisted living. This is the crucial foundation for providing for an elderly person’s livelihood, so it stands to reason that a qualified and experienced Los Angeles elder care lawyer would be a valuable asset.
Once housing has been secured, a conscientious attorney will work on matters of financial representation. In some cases, the Los Angeles elder care lawyer will bring in an accountant or certified financial planner to handle specialized matters like investments, annuities, or tax-advantaged securities like bonds and retirement accounts. Because of the potential for confusion over taxes and the long-term viability of an estate, good attorneys will call on the experience and knowledge of financial specialists when necessary.
In the meantime, financial planning naturally leads to matters of estate planning, which is yet another voluminous legal subject full of complexities and requiring considerable scrutiny. Coordinating a viable financial plan with a sound estate plan is an enormous undertaking. However, this framework creates security and stability for and is one of the key reasons elder law is such an important and fast-growing
Who Needs an Elder Law Attorney?
As unusual as it may seem, many people should start consulting with a specialist in elder law before they start preparing for retirement. The ten years immediately before and after retirement are intervals when ill-informed decisions or changes in investment strategies, retirement timing, career adjustments and other kinds of financial and legal options can lead to obstacles and in some cases, serious problems at a time when they are least affordable.
While the average person doesn’t need the full services of an elder law attorney ten years before retirement, they will want to be informed of their options as early as possible. Being prepared, after all, is the key to taking advantage of opportunities when they arise. It is also the key to avoiding the most obvious pitfalls. Retirement is not the time to discover you need to put another ten years of work in to secure your financial future. It is also not the time to discover your beliefs about cost and longevity are not quite accurate. These kinds of mistakes are easily avoidable provided the necessary time is taken to address them.
Anyone past retirement age who has dependent relatives, heirs, or who cares for someone who in any other circumstance would need a guardian should consult an elder care lawyer in Los Angeles to assist in the event of disability, incapacity or death. There are many options available, but they must be part of an overall estate plan. They also should be consistent with the wishes of the family and the applicable laws regarding who may become a guardian, and who may hold the financial or legal responsibilities of the estate itself.
How to Choose a Los Angeles Elder Law Attorney?
The most important factor in qualifying a Los Angeles elder care attorney is their experience in the field. Like intellectual property and real estate, elder care law is a complex field that changes frequently and must be carefully followed. Lawyers who work in other fields may lack the specialized knowledge that is so critical for avoiding common problems and shortcomings..
Personal involvement is also vital. Many attorneys work for firms that employ numerous people all of whom might have widely divergent responsibilities. It is crucial that a client know their attorney well and have a close relationship with them. If it turns out there is any potential for being referred to or assigned to someone else, this should give families pause. That personal relationship is often the difference between effective representation and merely adequate work.
Another factor is the current caseload and the nature of those cases. If a lawyer has a few well-established clients and most of their cases are in the field of elder care, this is a good sign. However, if the caseload consists of varying matters, the majority of which have nothing to do with elder care, that can be a red flag. An attorney with no time is unlikely to be available when needed, and in matters of elder law, this can become a serious and potentially dangerous problem the longer it persists.
Staff should also be evaluated. The training levels of the firm’s paralegals should be the subject of at least one or two inquiries. It is a good sign if you see the firm is committed to training, even if it isn’t specific to elder law. That means the firm takes its staff seriously and that those employees are going to be valuable to your particular situation should the need arise down the road.
Hiring the right elder law attorney in Los Angeles and Orange County California is a vital choice. When it comes to the well-being of a beloved family member and the preservation of their estate and family legacy, that choice becomes crucial. As always it‘s best to retain the services of a qualified and experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorney who specializes in elder law. The benefits of having an effective advocate can make all the difference, especially in a world with such complex and ever-changing legal details. It’s the kind of decision a loving family should consider together, so they can be confident they’ve made the right choice.
Call us today at (562) 594-4200 for a FREE 30 minute consultation to see how we can help with your elder care needs and planning.