With a growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement age and beyond, there has been an increasing interest in elder law issues. While past generations may not have hired elder law attorneys in Los Angeles, topics in this area have become extremely complex. An error could be costly or detrimental to a loved one’s care.
More importantly, state laws can differ quite a bit and can even affect federal programs like Medicaid. While there may be some issues that can be handled outside of a lawyer’s office, it’s wise to have one in your pocket to make sure everything is in order.
Here are some key facts you should consider before making a decision regarding your need for an elder law attorney.
What is Elder Law?
At its most fundamental level, elder law focuses on legal issues that pertain to seniors. At the surface level, this is a vague definition. There are areas where elder and other types of law cross paths.
For example, estate planning attorneys in Los Angeles can help you draft a will, create trusts, and deal with other areas of your assets. Not everyone who plans their estate fits into the senior demographic. At the same time, most seniors are in a position where they should start thinking about their estates. A lawyer not well-versed in elder issues might miss some key points that make a big difference.
Medicaid and Social Security benefits are incredibly complicated, as an example. With more people living longer after reaching retirement, costs of retirement and nursing homes add up exponentially. Making poor decisions on when to start drawing social security or how Medicaid funds are used can result in an insurmountable financial loss. An estate planning attorney without expertise in elder law issues cannot offer the best advice.
Another elder law issue that is often overlooked deals with nursing homes. Most nursing centers have complicated paperwork. With the stress of moving a loved one into a facility and the complex legal issues, it’s easy to sign something that might reduce a person’s rights while in the center.
What are Elder Law Attorneys?
Elder law attorneys have the same education and state clearance of any other bar-certified lawyer. The most significant difference is their experience with elder law issues. These attorneys are more likely to look at their clients in a holistic nature. They need to combine planning aspects from multiple disciplines, such as housing, finance, health, long-term care, etc.
Read More: How to Find a Reliable Elder Law Attorney?
While elder law attorneys and estate planning lawyers have some similarities, there are significant differences. The most noticeable difference is the end goal.
Estate planning attorneys are typically focused on ensuring your beneficiaries get the best possible inheritance. They also work to avoid estate taxes after you pass on. Planning with your estate as the primary focus might hurt plans regarding long-term care.
An elder law attorney is most interested in taking care of his or her client’s present needs. In some cases, elder law and estate planning lawyers work together or have a strong connection to ensure the entire picture is always being considered.
How can an elder law attorney help me?
Whether you’re in your senior years or have a loved one nearing retirement, there are a variety of ways an elder law can play a role.
Stop elder abuse
Recent studies suggest that nearly ten percent of the elderly have suffered from some form of elder abuse in the past year. The majority of these cases deal with financial exploitation, but other types of abuse are also rampant. Even the most elegant nursing homes in the country have openings for elder abuse. Your Los Angeles elder care attorney works to ensure you don’t sign anything that puts you or your loved one at risk.
Those who served in the military have additional benefits beyond social security and Medicaid. They may also have other needs and care requirements. For example, a vet who suffered physical injuries while in service or currently suffers from mental anguish may require more treatment than a civilian of the same age.
There are also assistance programs designed to benefit vets, but not all of these programs are created equally. Just there are plenty of people looking to take advantage of elders, there are also those who see veterans as potential targets. Elder law attorneys can help navigate the essential care required by our vets.
While estate planning is essential for everyone, it becomes crucial as one nears his or her final years. Regardless of the value of your estate, you’ll want to make sure that it’s handled appropriately. Your estate plan will contain the necessary legal framework to handle your assets after your passing. An elder law attorney also keeps your present needs in mind while ensuring your future is well managed.
Since people are living longer than ever before, retirement dollars also need to stretch further. While some families are able to take on caring for an elderly loved one in their homes, others rely on assisted living facilities. These centers can cost considerable amounts of money. You also have to take into account Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, retirement accounts, and other factors that mainly come into play after retirement.
Your elder law attorney can work with your finances, combined with government and other programs, to ensure that you have the necessary funds to live out your last years in comfort instead of stress.
Powers of attorney
In case you are incapacitated, you may need someone to step in and help make decisions about your life. A healthcare power of attorney is called upon to make decisions regarding your care in case you are no longer able to do so.
Not having an agent to act on your behalf means critical medical decisions can be delayed or made by a court-appointed agent who knows nothing about you. Your Los Angeles elder law attorney can ensure that you set up the appropriate documents to have someone enforcing your wishes.
Don’t go it alone
It might seem like handling elder law issues on your own will save money. While it might not cost as much upfront, it can cost more than dollars in the long term. Even the simple act of hiring a lawyer can provide the peace of mind you need about the welfare of your loved one.
If you’re curious about how an elder law attorney in Los Angeles can help you, your loved ones, and your current situation, set up a free consultation today.