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 a top rated elder law attorney in Los Angeles when they need it. Don’t wait until a crisis to find a lawyer who specializes in legal planning for elders. Contacting an attorney as you enter into your later years or as you begin your role as a caretaker is important. It 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 elder care planning, legal services, and specialties in Los Angeles 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, litigation, legal management of home, assets, savings, 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 estate planning and trust attorney in Los Angeles, CA who specializes in the specific laws surrounding matters pertinent to the elderly and their loved ones. Read more about lost trust documents California.
Lawyer Responsibilities on Estate Planning
First and foremost in the minds of families and children 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 top rated elder abuse 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. Getting help from a professional 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.
Los Angeles attorneys 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 elder law presents both opportunities and hazards for every client. It is up to the attorney to find the best options for the long-term. Read more about Orange County probate lawyer.
Housing and Care Facilities in Los Angeles County
While it might seem like something a family would normally do, an elder care attorney can be most helpful in finding and qualifying good nursing homes or long term-care facilities in Los Angeles 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 planning begin with access to quality long term housing, nursing home or 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.
Financial Planning Services
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, even elder law attorneys may need the experience and knowledge of financial specialists when necessary.
In the meantime, financial planning services 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 in California.
Retirement Planning Options
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.
Ideal Retirement Plan
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 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 contact an elder care lawyer 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.
Choosing an Elder Care Attorney for Long-Term Care Decisions
The most important factor in qualifying an elder care attorney is his or her experience in the field. Check out Thomas McKenzie’s lawyer profile and Avvo rating. Like intellectual property and real estate, elder care law is a complex field that changes frequently and must be carefully followed. Super lawyers who work in other fields may lack the specialized knowledge on elder law that is so critical for avoiding common problems and shortcomings.
Personal involvement is also vital. Many attorneys work for elder law 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 and licensed estate planning lawyer in Los Angeles 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 practice. 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 our office today at (562) 526-6941 for a FREE 30 minute consultation with our elder law attorney in Los Angeles County. You may also send us a message through our website to see how we can help with living trust, drafting wills, probate and trust administration, medi cal planning, elder care, special needs trusts or veteran planning.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How does elder law differ from general law practice?
Elder law specifically concerns the unique issues that face elderly people. As people age, they face a number of challenges, such as medical issues, inability to care for themselves, social security benefits, and more.
When elderly people become unable to take care of themselves, the complex subject of guardianship or conservatorship may arise. Elderly people may also want to put their final wishes down on paper in the form of advance directives and wills.
Elder law experts can help you navigate these complex issues and find solutions to legal concerns you may have.
What is the difference between estate planning and elder law?
Estate planning is primarily a form of financial planning. During the process, people will meet with attorneys to make a legal plan for their assets, such as stocks, bank accounts, and real estate.
Elder law, on the other hand, concerns the legal issues that elderly people face. Some elderly people may need help with estate planning, but others may be more concerned about dealing with nursing homes or Medicare.
Ultimately, elder law is a diverse field of law that includes the major challenges that commonly affect elderly people, and it often extends beyond estate planning.
At what age should a person contact an elder law attorney?
The decision to seek legal help is a personal one, and it depends on your unique situation. However, we recommend you start planning once you become a senior citizen or reach retirement age.
An elder law attorney can help you iron out essential details about your life as you age. That may involve your advance directive, health care concerns, and estate planning. Planning for life as an elderly person may feel strange, but it’s essential for the comfort and finances of both you and your family.
What about planning for a disabled or dependent child?
A well-crafted estate plan can help you care for your children even after your death. Trust funds can include several stipulations that will give your child access to money as needed, without giving him or her full access to the inheritance.
Special needs trusts, for example, can distribute payments to a disabled child who still relies on government benefits. If you create your trust with this in mind, that child can receive money from it without losing important medical benefits.
What is end-of-life care?
End-of-life care is designed to support a person with a terminal condition. Instead of providing treatment to stop the illness or disease, it aims to make life as comfortable as possible. It includes pain management and daily care.
Your advance directives are legal documents outlining your preferences for health care in case you are incapacitated. Assigning a power of attorney (POA), for example, allows you to choose who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf, if necessary.
A living will is another important document that lists the types of medical intervention you are willing or unwilling to receive, such as dialysis, Do-not-resuscitate orders, and comfort care.
Making decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time can reduce stress on your friends and family, and it will also ensure that your desires are respected.