Most estate planning attorneys also focus on elder law. When you hear the term “elder law attorney” you may wonder exactly what the field is all about. In this post we will provide an explanation.
In a general sense, elder law attorneys address legal issues that are relevant to senior citizens. There are different focuses within the elder law niche. Some attorneys are advocates with regard to certain issues. Others are more focused on assisting individual clients who want to prepare for the eventualities of aging.
Long-Term Care Costs
Elder law attorneys who are focused on helping individual clients will spend a great deal of time addressing the topic of long-term care costs.
Until you are confronted with the issue for one reason or another, you may be completely in the dark when it comes to the subject. It is logical to assume that every health care issue that you have to face as a senior citizen will be covered by Medicare.
In fact, Medicare will not pay for long-term care. It will pay for up to 100 days of convalescent care, but it won’t pay for what is called custodial care.
This is a big deal because the majority of senior citizens are going to need living assistance, and it is very expensive. Across the country as a whole, the average annual charge for a private room in a nursing home in 2012 was over $90,000.
Ten percent of people in nursing homes ultimately reside in the facilities for at least five years. The average length of stay is over two years.
Elder law attorneys help senior citizens who are concerned about meeting these costs. This can often involve the implementation of Medicaid planning strategies.
Medicaid will pay for long-term care if you can qualify. Because of the low upper asset limits, you have to take measured steps well in advance of applying if you want to preserve something for your loved ones.
Elder law attorneys are also going to help clients prepare for the possibility of incapacity. Have you ever wondered who would handle your affairs if you were to become incapacitated? If you do nothing, the court can appoint a guardian to act in your behalf . You would have no say in the selection process.
You can avoid this and name your own hand-picked decision-makers by including an incapacity component within your broader estate plan. This is usually going to involve the inclusion of legally binding documents called durable powers of attorney.
With these legal devices you empower agents to make decisions in your behalf in the event of your incapacitation. When you have named your own decision-makers in advance there is no need for the court to be petitioned to appoint a guardian.