How Elder Law Can Help You
The specialty of Elder Law is becoming more important as our population ages. People are living longer, but in many cases, are not living better. As a result, the need is growing for specialized legal advice about aging-related issues.
First, let’s define exactly what Elder Law is and why it might be of interest to you.
What is Elder Law?
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys states the following about defining Elder Law:
“Elder Law is a specialized area of law that involves representing, counseling, and assisting seniors and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, from estate planning to long term care issues, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for the individuals. Typically, Elder Law attorneys address the client’s perspective from a holistic viewpoint by addressing legal, medical, financial, social and family issues.”
What are some specific examples of how Elder Law can help you?
· Overcome the Potential for Financial Exploitation
The trusting nature of many elderly people makes them vulnerable to financial exploitation. All seniors should be made aware of and told to avoid any financial transactions that require up front deposits. No contracts are to be signed without two or three days of consideration in consultation with knowledgeable family members. All dishonest schemes promulgated through the mail are guilty of mail fraud and appropriate complaints should be filed. All states have consumer-reporting departments to take complaints on consumer fraud.
· Settle Family Disputes
It is becoming more common to use an attorney, an arbitrator or a mediator in solving disputes among family members relating to the care of elderly parents. For instance, one child may have stolen assets and the rest of the family wants that person brought to justice. There may be a disagreement over the final disposition of property in an estate plan and it may take an attorney to solve that. A lawyer may be necessary to settle the differences either through the courts or through mediation.
Ideally, before things get to this stage, you’ve had conversations with your parents about how they want their needs met during their later years. They’ve made out the papers naming a Power of Attorney for Health Care (a health directive indicating who will make health decisions if they can’t and detailing their preferences for treatment) and a Power of Attorney for financial affairs. A will should be part of this, as well as other personal papers. Ideally, as well, all siblings are aware of these papers, what they contain and all are in agreement. Ideally – taking care of the elders becomes a family affair. However, life is seldom ideal.
· Help with Medicare and Medicaid
Qualified legal help is available from elder law attorneys to help individuals in applying for and accelerating payments for Medicaid. An elder law attorney can also help with disputes with Medicaid. Likewise attorneys who specialize in Medicare can help with disability claims and sometimes this help is the only way claims are ever granted.
If you feel that you or someone you know could benefit from having Elder Law services, please contact Choice Connections at www.ChoiceConnectionsVA.com or visit The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys: www.naela.org
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