The older you get, the more likely you are to be affected by legal issues involving aging. An elder law attorney can help you address some of them. An elder law attorney offers guidance on matters that concern the elderly, their families and caregivers, and adults with special needs, including long-term care and estate planning. Here are some of the problems an elder law attorney may be able to help you solve.
1. Navigating government programs for seniors, such as Medicare and Medicaid (or MaineCare). The federal Medicare and state-level Medicaid programs may be complex and confusing for first-time and long-term enrollees. For instance, each part of the Medicare program, from A through D, covers a different aspect of health-care. Medicaid (also known as MaineCare) accepts applicants based on their income and assets and covers certain health-care services, including long-term care. In some cases, you may qualify for both programs. An elder law attorney's guidance can ease the enrollment process or help you continue to get coverage.
2. Missing your eligibility for MaineCare or Medicaid in your estate plan. From in-home care to nursing home care, an elder law attorney may advise you on long-term care and insurance, which might be tricky to navigate on your own. They can check that you're taking the right steps in the cycle of care.
3. Dealing with elder abuse, fraud, or neglect. People with special needs may also be susceptible. If you're not sure where to turn on these issues, an elder law attorney can advise you on a suitable action plan.
4. Planning for disability. In the event of incapacity, an elder law attorney may help you set up an agent under power of attorney and a living will to secure your future when you can't make your own decisions. For those with special needs who can't do so themselves, they can help establish a special needs trust or an ABLE account.
5. Checking that your estate plan is legally valid. If it isn't, your intentions might not be fulfilled and your loved ones may face problems.
6. Advising you about a complex estate. If you own a lot of assets, it could be hard to do your own estate planning. You also might miss something. An elder law attorney can help you cover everything.
7. Dealing with a blended family. If your family situation is complicated, you might not know how to handle conflicts over grandparent visitation rights or other issues. An elder law attorney can help you determine the best course and mediate any disputes.
8. Ensuring the language in your estate plan documentation is clear and correct. If the wording in your will is open to interpretation, a court may need to step in and make a decision. Talking to an elder law attorney may help prevent difficulties later.
9. Customizing your estate plan to your unique situation. Everyone walks a different path along the journey of life. What works for a friend, relative, or neighbor might not work for you. Don't take a “cookie cutter” approach to your estate planning. An elder law attorney can tailor a plan for you.
10. Lacking someone ready to turn to for advice at critical points later. It's often better to connect with an elder law attorney well before a life or death matter occurs. An elder law attorney will prepare you for what may happen ahead of time so you're not caught off guard.
You, caregivers, older loved ones, or those with special needs may face these or other scenarios. You can either let life happen to you or make plans. How will you adjust when something unexpected happens? If you're not sure what to do, an elder law attorney may help you move forward with crucial decisions involving elder care, estate planning, and related issues.