The practice of Elder Law integrates legal counseling for older persons and their representatives with advocacy for, and protection of, their needs and rights. By considering your current legal, financial, social, medical, and housing needs, and anticipating what those needs may be in the future, we can help you and your family understand and prepare for the demands of aging.
In addressing these issues, we often work with other professionals, including geriatric care managers, financial planners, accountants, insurance agents, housing specialists, and community agencies such as the Area Agencies on Aging. Our services may include legal counseling and advice, recommendations, referrals to other service providers, preparation of documents to accomplish your goals, negotiation, and representation in administrative and court proceedings.
Many clients are anticipating the potential need for long term care in the future. We will work with you to evaluate current assets and sources of income, and to assess whether additional support may be available, either in the short term or in the long term. We can help evaluate various options for paying for long term care, including private or employer-provided health insurance, Medicare, Social Security Disability Income, Medicare supplement policies, Medicare prescription drug benefits, Veterans’ Benefits, Medicaid benefits, home equity conversion through a reverse mortgage, and long term care insurance. We can also help maximize resources available to a spouse who remains at home when the other spouse enters a long-term care facility.
If in-home services could enable you to live independently at home, we can identify options and explore sources of payment for those services. If remaining at home is no longer appropriate for your needs, we can assist in the assessment of other housing options such as senior living facilities, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, and skilled nursing facilities.
For clients with chronic or progressive illness, we can help make plans for management of personal and financial affairs in the event of later incapacity. We often work with a professional geriatric care manager to help identify the necessary services and appropriate level of care for the individual client, and help the client to get that care in the appropriate setting. We can also review available sources of payment assistance, including private or employer-provided health insurance, Medicare, Social Security Disability Income, Medicare supplement policies, Medicare prescription drug benefits, Veterans’ Benefits, Medicaid benefits and long term care insurance. When a client requires long-term nursing home care, we can assist with such issues as reviewing the nursing home admission agreement prior to signing, preventing improper discharge from the facility, and ensuring that the client receives necessary and appropriate services.
If a client may need Medicaid benefits in order to pay for long term care, we can help you develop a financial plan that will comply with local eligibility rules to qualify for Medicaid. We can also help make sure that a spouse who is remaining in the home will continue to have sufficient assets to avoid becoming impoverished by the costs of long term care.
We can also determine whether you may be eligible for benefits as a qualified veteran or as a surviving spouse of a veteran, and offer advice and recommendations on the eligibility requirements and the benefits available through the Department of Veterans Affairs, including the improved pension benefits often referred to as “Aid & Attendance” or “Housebound” benefits.
In addition, we can assist you and your family in comparing different potential sources of funding, and avoid catastrophic consequences that can occur when qualifying for one program may result in disqualification from another. We can assist in determining what choices or combination of choices will best suit your particular circumstances.
We assist clients in preparing for and making proactive arrangements for continued management and decision-making in the event of diminished mental capacity. We can help you identify appropriate agents for financial decision-making, frequently designated through a durable general power of attorney and sometimes through a trust, as well as health care decision-making, typically designated through an advance medical directive or medical power of attorney. Where advance planning has not been undertaken, we also assist clients in seeking court appointment of decision-makers – a guardian to manage health and personal matters, and/or a conservator to manage business and financial matters. We can assist in this process on behalf of a petitioning party, on behalf of the elder objecting to the imposition of a guardian or conservator, or as a guardian ad litem investigating on behalf of the court.
We are also available to assist you as you anticipate and prepare for end-of-life medical decisions. This may include encouraging you to have conversations with medical providers and family members to discuss your wishes before decisions need to be made, working with medical providers to effect your wishes, and working with families to ensure implementation of your wishes.