An attorney who specializes in elder law helps seniors and individuals with special needs simplifies their choices and ease their burdens when planning for their future. Some of the issues an elder law attorney helps orchestrate on behalf of clients include estate plans, health care plans, housing, financial plans and protection against abuse.
About elder law
Future planning is required for an individual with special needs. Although you may be at the beginning of the process, your child is going to be impacted by his or her birth injury for life. Thinking about the distant future is important for economic and logistical planning purposes.
Aging parents and caregivers may be unable to care for their special needs child, or they may pre-decease their special needs child. Those with primary responsibility to care for a disabled or impaired child have added legal concerns about how their child will age and be provided for if they, as the primary caretaker or guardian, are no longer able to oversee their child’s welfare.
How can an elder law attorney help my family?
Care of the elderly is a complicated and emotional issue. In fact, emotions are often associated with the onset of illness, loss of personal freedom, providing the best and most affordable housing, health care, insurance, and identifying financial options and resources. The focus is on available, affordable, convenient, and hassle-free options.
The law respects a senior’s autonomy to determine his or her own affairs for as long as the capacity exists. Lawyers concentrating in elder law typically strive to simplify choices and ease the burden and confusion seniors may have when planning for the future. Lawyers take steps to legally protect a senior’s wishes and preferences.
The government has traditionally offered two main housing options to aging seniors: federally funded housing choices through Section 202 housing, and Section 8 housing certificates. The government also offers federal housing initiatives, although admittedly there is a shortage of viable residential options for frail seniors with low-to-moderate income levels. Recently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has experienced a decrease in funding, while the number of older citizens with changing needs has increased.
The government’s current focus is on accommodating physically supportive environments with designs to adapt and modify existing homes to meet the senior’s changing needs. Medicaid provides nursing home incentives to those who qualify and there has been a growth in private sector assisted living, which offers a less restrictive residential alternative to nursing homes.
The emphasis has been and continues to be on accommodating preferences, protecting rights, and ensuring quality of life provisions.
Areas of elder law include:
- Estate planning – provides guidance on estate transfers, gift granting, will and trust preparation, power of attorney authorizations, and asset inventories, as well as assisting in the designation of guardians, executors and benefactors. Elder lawyers also will assist with employment and retirement advice;
- Health care planning – provides help with simplifying health care options and easing the decision-making burden when reviewing health care plans, nursing care, personal care, advance directives, insurance packages, and Medicare/Medicaid choices;
- Housing and real estate planning – provides advice and measures to secure aging in place or for planning purposes when seeking counsel on independent, semi-dependent, or dependent housing options that are better suited to meet changing needs. As seniors age they will likely develop physical or cognitive changes that require accommodation. Neighborhoods may become unsafe. Living quarters may lack maintenance and repair. Home modifications and adaptations can be secured to increase independence, prevent accidents, decrease burdens, and increase convenience. Changes in housing from ownership to rental, from assisted living to nursing home, or from unsafe neighborhood to secure settings can be made;
- Financial planning – provides advice to plan for and allocate finances in order to live comfortably, with proper care, and in case of emergencies. Financial planning can involve bonds, stocks, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, money market accounts, as well as retirement plans, 401(k)s, and investment allocation. Durable Power of Attorney considerations provide directives while living, but also can address situations where the elderly person becomes unable to make care decisions on their own. Trusts, whether living or testamentary, allocate assets and keep personal matters private. Long-term care insurance may be useful if a person lacks assistance from others or if a person prefers not to depend upon his or her children, spouse, partner or next of kin. Financial planning can also protect against the theft or misuse of senior funds;
- Elder abuse – seniors are vulnerable to abuse. Abuse may involve abandonment, exploitation, neglect by others, or self-neglect. A senior may be physically, psychologically, financially, or sexually abused. Abuse can happen in a variety of settings, including at home, in public, in care facilities, at hospitals, or in nursing care. Lawyers practicing elder law are sometimes sought to assist with measures that recognize, report, investigate, treat, and protect seniors from abuse.
If you need assistance making preparations for different stages in your special child’s life, please call (800) 462-5772 for free today. Stern Law, PLLC has been serving families like yours for over three decades, and we are pleased to answer questions and direct you to qualified professionals in the field of elder law.