Each age and stage of life comes with different issues and needs when it comes to health, well-being, family, money, and legal assistance. Couples seeking to get married might need help with prenuptial agreements, adults trying to adopt might need legal help with the process, middle-aged adults might seek help with retirement and estate planning, and aging adults have different needs such as receiving Medicare and abuse. An elder law attorney focuses on legal aspects that specifically impact elderly Americans and their families.
Although often confused and interchanged with estate planning, elder law is different. Elder Law planning exists to preserve your money, income, and assets so that it can be used for your benefit and care before you die. In contrast, estate planning focuses on the distribution of your assets, usually in a tax-advantaged manner, after your death. Elder law can involve tax and estate planning, but its sole purpose is different. Individuals who need to receive care in a nursing or long-term facility will benefit from the services of a knowledgeable elder law lawyer.
This type of attorney will offer unique perspectives and insights regarding the rights and options of senior citizens. They use a holistic approach when providing legal advice, taking into consideration the key issues facing seniors, such as housing, financial well-being, health and long-term care, and autonomy/quality of life.
Many seniors and their families can benefit from the expertise of an elder law lawyer. They can help with a wide range of issues facing America elders today, including:
All of these issues require an in-depth understanding of specific laws and the lives of the elderly. They can be confusing and overwhelming to the layperson. Trying to handle these issues on your own or with only the help of a family member can be detrimental to your health, emotional well-being, and finances. When you enlist the services of a legal team, you have compassionate advocates on your side who will work tirelessly in their efforts to protect and enforce your rights.
The skyrocketing costs of long-term care must be considered in anyone’s estate plan. For 2018, the average cost of long-term care across Virginia (except for northern Virginia) is $6,422 per month. Medicare pays a portion of the first 100 days in a long-term care facility. After that, the expenses of long-term care are covered by private payment, long-term care insurance, veterans benefits, and/or Medicaid.
Adult guardianships and conservatorships are the only mechanisms by which a party receives authority to make decisions for an incapacitated person who did not plan for his or her incapacity by preparing a power of attorney or a trust. (In some cases, where families are in conflict or a named agent under a power of attorney has been grossly negligent or engaged in misconduct, a guardianship and/or conservatorship is unavoidable even if estate planning documents are prepared.)
Guardians are appointed by the circuit court to make health care, living, and well-being decisions for an incapacitated person. Conservators are appointed to make financial decisions and manage the assets/property of an incapacitated person. The process of being appointed a guardian and/or conservator can be lengthy. It involves procuring a physician’s evaluation that the appointment is needed, a guardian ad litem (GAL) appointed by the court to ensure that the guardianship and/or conservatorship is in the allegedly incapacitated person’s best interests, and a hearing where a judge hears evidence and determines whether to appoint the guardian and/or conservator and what powers they should hold. We can guide parties who need to be appointed as a guardian and/or conservator of a loved one through the steps of the appointment process and advise them of their duties and reporting requirements once appointed.
The attorneys at Mahoney Richmond Thurston, PLLC, understand the unique legal needs of older Americans. They take pride in helping families understand how specific laws and protections impact them. If you need help exercising your rights or have questions about a specific issue such as fraud or nursing home care, contact us to schedule your elder law case review today.