When to See an Elder Law Attorney

When To See An Elder Law Attorney

Elder Law focuses on the legal issues faced by older individuals. This includes: basic documents (Will, Power of Attorney, and Advance Directives), estate planning to minimize probate costs and inheritance taxes, and how to qualify for public benefits (Veterans Administration and Medicaid). In a perfect world all laws and regulations would be coordinated with each other. However, in the real world our present laws and regulations often work at cross purposes. An elder law attorney understands these complexities, and knows how to work through them to help you achieve your goals.

The following list is not exhaustive but describes some situations when it would be wise to consult an elder law attorney:

• A need for basic documents
A Will allows you to decide what will happen to your money, property, and belongings after you are gone

A Power of Attorney (POA) allows you to appoint one or more trusted individuals to take care of your legal and financial matters any time you are incapacitated. A POA does not take away your right to make your own decisions as long as you have the ability to do so.

Advance Directives (Healthcare POA and Living Will) allow you to decide who will make any health related decisions if you are incapacitated; they also allow you to state any treatment preferences for care at the end of your life.

• A need for estate planning
Elder law attorneys understand the rules and the costs of probating your will and any inheritance taxes that would be incurred by your beneficiaries; consequently, they are able to help you develop strategies to minimize those expenses.

• A need for public benefits
Elder law attorneys understand the eligibility regulations for Veterans Administration programs and the Medicaid (Medical Assistance) program; consequently, they can help people qualify more quickly for the financial help these programs offer.

• A concern about the high cost of nursing home care
Nursing home costs can quickly devour a person’s lifetime savings. However, with advance planning, an elder law attorney can often help a person protect at least a portion of those assets.

• Changing goals
As a person grows older the goals for the use of their assets often change from providing for family, to preparing for retirement, to leaving a legacy. Anytime your goals are changing it is wise to review your situation with an elder law attorney to see if your documents and plans will help meet the new goals or if new plans and documents are needed.

• Family change
Changes such as family additions, deaths, or divorces are times when it is wise to update your estate planning documents

• Health changes
Anytime you or a spouse are diagnosed with a chronic or disabling medical condition you may find you are facing questions about long-term care. An elder law attorney can help with financial planning for long-term care.

While the attorneys at Keystone Elder Law can help you with any of the above situations, Keystone is about much more than just an elder’s legal documents. Keystone was the first elder law firm in Central Pennsylvania to be a member of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Consequently, Keystone employs an Elder Care Coordinator to work with the attorneys to develop a comprehensive plan that covers both the social and legal needs of the elder.