Growing older usually means developing different healthcare, nutrition, and financial needs. Your legal needs may also change as you become a senior citizen, which is why learning about an elder care attorney now is so important. Now is the ideal time to research attorneys and see if they can handle your affairs.
But what is an elder care lawyer, and what valuable services can they offer their clients? If you have been wondering about those questions, this article is for you. Use this opportunity to learn more about the importance of hiring an elder care attorney and take the necessary steps toward hiring one.
What is an Elder Care Attorney?
Before we go any further, let’s first work on clearly defining an elder law attorney. Elder care attorneys differ from many other legal professionals because they focus more on a specific group of people rather than a particular field of the law. That job description does not necessarily mean elder care lawyers only have senior citizens as clients. Rather, it is an indicator that they are the legal experts particularly suited to handle the legal affairs of older individuals.
Whether an elder law attorney caters exclusively to older clients or devotes more time to them, they must still develop a diverse skillset. Ironically, offering legal representation to a specific demographic requires more comprehensive knowledge of the law. That is because the attorneys must address legal concerns related to various fields.
Elder care attorneys must also possess certain qualities to serve their clients better. Let’s go over some of those essential qualities below.
An attorney practicing elder law must be an excellent communicator. It is no secret that effective communication can be difficult for older individuals, so their lawyers must be patient and insightful. They should be capable of taking information an older client provides to figure out their needs. In other words, an elder law attorney must be able to offer legal guidance.
The lawyer should also work quickly. Sometimes, an older client develops urgent needs, and the lawyer must respond immediately. Even in situations that are not necessarily urgent, prompt service remains critical because senior citizens often do not have the luxury of time.
Legal concerns involving elder law can become complex. They may even include matters from several years or decades in the past. You must entrust those concerns to an experienced legal professional. Otherwise, you may not have them addressed properly.
Personalized Service Provider
Elder law cases or concerns are usually unique to the individuals presenting them. If you are looking for a new lawyer who can manage your legal affairs, you cannot afford to hire one who takes a blanket approach. That approach is lacking and unlikely to yield the benefits you need. Instead, prioritize lawyers who have no qualms about implementing a personalized approach.
Reputable Legal Professional
Lastly, your attorney should be a reputable legal professional. How can you tell if they fit that description? Checking out reviews and speaking to their previous clients will definitely help. Gauge the quality of an attorney’s work based on what their clients say about them before deciding on the hiring front.
The Services Provided by an Elder Care Attorney
Now that we know more about an elder care attorney’s job description and ideal qualities, we can dive into their services. As we noted earlier, elder law attorneys often have to dip their toes in various pools to meet the needs of their clients. That much is clear when you browse the services they provide.
Your Elder Care Attorney Can Help You Access Medicare
Not everyone can get their insurance affairs in order while they are still working. You may need to wait until later in life to secure coverage from Medicare.
Because Medicare is insurance provided by the government, obtaining coverage from it differs from purchasing a private plan. It is best to understand what you are getting into as early as possible. To do that, you will need to secure the services of an elder care lawyer.
Work closely with your lawyer to ensure all your requirements are in order and you are not providing incorrect information. Make a mistake at this juncture, and you may receive a fine.
Issues regarding Medicare may also emerge down the line when you are trying to access your benefits. You could be denied care or certain benefits because they do not make sense. Getting your lawyer involved is necessary, no matter why you received a denial of your benefits.
Your Elder Care Attorney Can Safeguard Your Retirement Accounts
With retirement fast approaching, it is time for you to take a more active role in managing your retirement accounts. Previously, you may have been content to leave them alone and let them grow while you focused on work. Now that you are about to lose your steady source of income, you must make those accounts work for you.
Approach an attorney and start making plans to draw money from your retirement accounts. Depending on the portfolio you have built up, you may only need to use some of your accounts as income streams while the others continue accumulating value. It is a good idea to loop a financial consultant into these conversations as well so they can provide additional insight.
This would also be a good time to discuss the financial assets you wish to reserve as an inheritance. Make preliminary plans for them so they are easier to manage down the line.
You want to discuss these with your elder care lawyer as soon as possible because completing transactions with your retirement accounts may take some time. In the meantime, you can entrust those accounts to your lawyers, knowing they will be properly cared for.
Your Elder Care Attorney Can Help Create an Asset Distribution Plan
We touched on it a bit in the previous entry, but it is worth noting that your retirement accounts are not the only assets you can leave to heirs. Other assets you can leave behind include real estate properties, investments, and jewelry. You probably have ideas about who should possess those assets when you pass away. Even if that is the case, ensuring your assets end up in the right hands is easier said than done.
You can make asset distribution easier by partnering with an elder care attorney.
They can help you decide which instruments to use for asset management and distribution. Review your current asset pool and determine if you should put them in a trust or distribute them to your heirs via a will. Consider the pros and cons of both options before making your decision. Your attorney can highlight those essential points.
Your Elder Care Attorney Can Serve as the Trustee or Executor of Your Estate
Whether you choose to put your assets in a trust or distribute them to your heirs via a will, you will need someone to manage them. If you set up a trust, you must name a trustee. Drafting a will means you must name someone who will serve as the executor of your estate.
You can choose from several candidates if you are looking for a trustee or executor. You can give one of those roles to a friend, family member, or private company. Do not forget that your elder care lawyer can also serve in that role.
Bestowing one of those roles to your lawyer also makes a lot of sense because they know how to serve as fiduciaries. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fiduciaries are bound by law to manage assets in the best interests of their clients. Technically speaking, anyone you name as your trustee or executor of your estate has to be a fiduciary. However, your loved ones may not fully understand what that means.
Lawyers are already familiar with the duties of a fiduciary. They can tell if a particular action could be construed as misappropriating your assets and avoid it. Furthermore, lawyers are experts at keeping records of your assets.
The role of trustee or estate executor is not something you can leave to someone simply because you have faith that they will always keep your best interests in mind. The roles should only go to people with the time and capabilities to manage them properly. Name your lawyer as your trustee or executor to ensure your assets are in good hands.
Your Elder Care Attorney Can Help You Choose a Retirement Facility
Living by yourself can be a risky proposition if you have nagging health conditions. If you slip and fall on the ground with your smartphone out of reach, you may find yourself in a potentially life-threatening situation. Other elderly individuals may have difficulty living alone because they have trouble performing basic tasks. Many senior citizens stay in retirement communities, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes to avoid that and other dangerous situations.
You may be wondering why you need the services of an elder care attorney if you are planning to stay in one of those facilities. Simply put, you cannot assume that the workers at those facilities have your best interests in mind. Local laws determine what kind of care those facilities are obligated to provide. To confirm that they are living up to their legal obligations, you must know about them in the first place.
Review the terms presented by a retirement facility and check if they align with the laws in your area. You can also ask your attorney if a facility only does enough to abide by local laws. Essentially, your attorney can tell you which facilities are worth considering.
Your Elder Care Attorney Can Address Your Concerns Regarding the Retirement Facility
It is natural for us to expect that the people who work in retirement facilities will take good care of their residents. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Bad employees occasionally end up in those facilities, and they may neglect or abuse the people left in their care.
Many of those employees engage in neglectful or abusive activities because they believe they can get away with them. They look at the senior citizens in their care as vulnerable individuals who cannot take action.
Avoid becoming a victim of that abuse by maintaining close contact with your elder care attorney. Let your attorney know when you notice something off with the type of care you receive. Ask them to take the necessary steps to hold the negligent or abusive employees accountable for their actions.
Your Elder Care Attorney Can Set Up Your Power of Attorney Documents
It is never fun to ponder the idea of being incapacitated to the point where you can no longer make decisions regarding the essential aspects of your life. Still, it is a possibility we cannot ignore. If you have distinct ideas of how you want your situation handled, you must start drafting a power of attorney document.
Power of attorney is a legal right you offer to another person or persons so they can make decisions regarding your finances, properties, and medical care. This particular legal right may have minimal restrictions, or it could be to the point where it has a narrow scope of effectiveness. You can also bestow a power of attorney that remains effective before and even while you are incapacitated.
An elder care lawyer can make it easier for you to handle matters pertaining to power of attorney. First off, they can help draft the document that meets your needs. You can also name your lawyer as your agent to ensure your wishes are honored. Naming your lawyer and a loved one as co-agents is also worth considering if you want them working together in your best interests.
The services provided by an elder care attorney are remarkably helpful. Find a good elder law attorney and secure the expert legal assistance you need later in life. Contact us at Alber Law Group and let us provide the services you need!