Don’t be fooled. Elder Law Attorneys aren’t just for older people. Regardless of your age, income, or marital and family status, a consultation with an Elder Law Attorney will have a big impact on your future.
Elder Law Attorneys specialize in planning for the future. For the “what ifs” in life. And we all know, for better or worse, life-changing detours happen to all of us. Peace of mind doesn’t come with knowing what’s next, but it can be found in knowing you are prepared for what may come.
3 Reasons to Visit an Elder Law Attorney
1. If you are 18 years old or older, you need an estate plan.
Seriously? At 18? At the age of majority, every adult needs directives that identify who will make decisions for them in the event of incapacity. You are your estate. As you age, you will acquire property and assets, but even at 18, documents are needed to designate who will make financial and/or health-related decisions if you cannot do so for yourself.
Estate planning and elder law often get confused. There is some overlap because estate planning establishes what happens to your money when you die while elder law specializes in managing you and your money while you are aging. Elder Law Attorneys are experts in estate planning and can help you plan for your future as you age.
5 Most Important Estate Planning Documents
Revocable Living Trust
Last Will & Testament
Living Will & Health Care Surrogate
Declaration of Preneed Guardian
Durable Power of Attorney
Everyone can benefit from these documents. Different documents may become necessary as your estate evolves, but these five documents are the first step in organizing your estate. Your Elder Law Attorney stays with you as you age, updating your documents to reflect assets, marriage, children, and other life stages as they occur.
2. Be prepared to plan ahead because aging is expensive.
How much money will I need in retirement? That depends on how long you plan on living. Since none of us have a crystal ball, it’s never too early to start a financial plan. If you plan on utilizing public benefits to help protect your assets, Financial Planning must begin sooner rather than later.
Public benefits are available to those who qualify and apply. Therefore, having an Elder Law Attorney who understands the planning needed to access those benefits is important. In Florida, two of the public benefits that help you prepare for long-term care needs are Medicaid and VA Aid & Attendance.
Public Benefits in Florida
VA Aid & Attendance
Plan Ahead for Medicaid Benefits in Florida
Florida Medicaid is a process. There are three primary Medicaid programs and knowing how and when to apply for each takes the experience of a seasoned Elder Law Attorney. The best time to plan for Medicaid is before you need it. Depending on the program you are applying for, approval and funding can take months.
Medicaid planning helps put you in charge of your future. Your Elder Law Attorney will sort through the full picture of your income, assets, and expenses to guide you in the best possible direction for your circumstances. Each situation is different, so taking advice from your neighbor whose cousin’s mother applied for Medicaid ten years ago for her mom is not a strong strategy.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit Helps Pay for Care
The VA offers a benefit for eligible veterans to help pay for care in the home, at an assisted living facility, or nursing home. A VA-accredited Elder Law Attorney can prepare and present your claim, making sure you are getting the maximum benefit available to you. There are people who will offer to help you with an Aid & Attendance application. If they aren’t accredited, they do not understand the intricacies of veterans benefits law.
Applying for VA Aid & Attendance is more than filling out a form. A VA-accredited Elder Law Attorney understands specific eligibility criteria and how this benefit can affect other VA pensions. How long does it take the VA to make a decision? It depends. Working with a VA-accredited Elder Law Attorney will make the journey much easier, and they can keep you informed every step of the way.
3. Probate is avoidable, but an Elder Law Attorney will walk you through it.
If you participate in thoughtful Estate Planning, you may never have to experience the journey that is probate court. Probate is the court-supervised process of managing assets for a deceased person. Regardless of the size of your estate, if you haven’t planned properly, your family will have to go through the frustrating and time-consuming process of probate.
Probate Responsibilities in Which An Attorney Will Assist
Preparation and filing of court documents
Distribution of assets
An Elder Law Attorney helps you through probate by navigating the complex requirements on your behalf. If you have been designated as an estate executor or personal representative, an experienced probate attorney can help administer the estate according to the law on your behalf. The process can be lengthy, causing a great deal of stress for someone who is not confident in the process – and doesn’t want to be held personally liable!
Choose an Elder Law Attorney to Give Peace of Mind for a Lifetime
It’s never too early to establish a relationship with an Elder Law Attorney. Once you establish your initial Estate Plan, it is important to check-in every few years or upon a major life event to see if your estate plan should be updated. Your attorney will celebrate life stages with you – marriage, children, grandchildren, and ultimately, retirement. If they first met you when you executed advance directives at 18, they will be your biggest cheerleaders – celebrating your well-planned life and choosing peace of mind for yourself and your family.
Because they are advocates for a lifetime and experienced problem solvers, Elder Law Attorneys are a Resource We Love. Learn more about how these legal specialists can help you plan for life’s surprises – big and small - in the Legal and Financial Section of our Blog.