In order to eliminate problems and excess administrative work for your children and heirs, a bit of planning on your part is helpful. Choose now what you want to do with your assets and create a will, get help with legal agreements, living wills, trusts, etc. In order to do this, you may want to consult an elder law attorney. If you have children with disabilities and you are worried about their care after you are gone, an attorney practicing Special Needs Planning would be a wise choice.
Legal issues that affect people as they age and people with special needs are growing. Our laws are becoming more complex, and each state has different laws. Actions taken with regard to a single matter may have unintended legal effects. It is important that lawyers working with seniors, people with special needs, and their families, have a thorough understanding of the laws that may have an impact on a given situation to avoid future problems. Elder Law and Special Needs Planning encompass many different fields of law. Here are some samples:
· Preservation/transfer of assets seeking to avoid spousal impoverishment when one
spouse enters a nursing home.
· Tax planning
· Medicare claims and appeals
· Social Security and disability claims and appeals
· Supplemental and long-term health insurance issues
· Tax planning
· Disability planning, including use of durable powers of attorney, living trusts, “living wills” for financial management and health care decisions, and other means of delegating management and decision-making to another in case of incompetency or incapacity
· Access to health care in a managed care environment
· Estate planning
· Probate and administration of estates
· Administration and management of trusts
· Long-term care placements in nursing home and life-care communities
· Patients’ rights, nursing home issues and nursing home quality
· Elder abuse
· Housing issues, including discrimination and home equity conversions
· Age discrimination in employment
· Retirement, including public and private retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and pension benefits
· Health law & mental health law
Most attorneys do not specialize in all of these areas. Like a physician who specializes in one area of medicine, when an attorney practices Elder or Special Needs Law, find out which of these matters the attorney routinely handles. You will want to hire an attorney that focuses on the area of law that is relevant to your particular case, but who knows enough about other related areas of law to be able to advise you or guide you to another professional more experienced with your situation. For example, if your spouse is ill and you are going to rewrite your will, the attorney needs to know enough about Medicaid to know whether there are legal issues with regard to your spouse’s inheritance.
Attorneys who primarily work with seniors and people with special needs appreciate the complex financial and social decisions their clients face. May is National Elder Law Month. Elder and Special Needs Law attorneys bring to their practice a knowledge of their clients that allows them to ignore the myths relating to aging and the competence of seniors and people with disabilities. They will take into account and empathize with some of the true physical and mental difficulties that often accompany the aging process. They are tied into a formal or informal system of social workers, geriatric c are managers, psychologists, and other professionals that may be of assistance to you or your loved one.
About the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), founded in 1987.
As a member of NAELA myself, this national association of Elder and Special Needs Law attorneys is devoted to the education and training of attorneys who can meet the needs of seniors and people with special needs, and who advocate for the needs of such individuals. NAELA also examines and advocates on national public policy issues facing seniors and people with special needs in America.