Among the most common elder law frequently asked questions is when an aging adult needs to get a lawyer involved. To answer this it helps to first explain a little bit about what elder law attorneys do and how elder law works.
Understanding Elder Law
In general terms, elder law is the field of law dedicated to addressing the diverse legal needs of aging adults. While specifics will vary by individual, the most common services an elder law attorney provides include long-term care planning, disability, and special needs planning, and estate planning and settlement.
Naturally, each of these areas is multifaceted and requires collaboration with a team of professionals. An elder law attorney will work in collaboration with an individual’s family doctor, financial advisor, social worker, and therapist in addition to consulting with family members and loved ones. Their role is to ensure all needed legal documents are in place to protect an aging individual’s health and finances. This involves looking into the future and arranging assets so that a person qualifies for public benefits required to cover the cost of long-term care; it also means ensuring advance directives and powers of attorney have been filed as a safeguard against incapacitating injury or illness; and lastly, it means building a comprehensive estate plan which works to see a person’s belongings properly distributed to loved ones.
When to Contact an Elder Law Attorney
Truth be told, it is never too soon. After all, elder law is not only about protecting you in your advanced years but ensuring that you arrive at them prepared. What’s more, certain essential public benefits such as Medicaid employ a five-year lookback period that determines eligibility not just based upon your current financial position but on all actions taken in the five years before applying for coverage. Because even young and healthy individuals can unexpectedly find themselves needing long-term care, it is important to not put off the sort of financial planning required to ensure access. Likewise, for this same reason, it is crucial that every adult have advance directives in place.
The above advice notwithstanding, few adults begin working with an elder law attorney until an acute need arises. Most often, this means a change in health such as the diagnosis of a chronic or disabling medical condition. In such circumstances, an individual is rudely awakened to the importance of having a will and powers of attorney among other essential estate planning documents. Advancing age also, inevitably, creates the need to consult with an elder law attorney as does any time you or a loved one might require public benefits to cover medical expenses.
As with most elder law frequently asked questions, providing more specifics concerning when to reach out to a lawyer is impossible without assessing your individual needs. This said, if you are wondering whether you need to speak to an elder law attorney, chances are you do. If this is you, do not hesitate to reach out to the Deliberato Law Center either by calling our office at (216) 341-3413 or writing us using the contact form on our website.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center