When Should I Hire an Elder Law Attorney?
Elder law attorneys can help protect you, your health and your financial wellbeing as you get older. Their primary focus is to shield you from abuse, preserve your assets, and ensure your access to healthcare — even if you become incapacitated — is secured. Learn what to consider, how they can help you, and whether it’s financially worth it to hire an elder law attorney.
What Should You Consider When Looking Into Elder Law Attorneys?
An elder law attorney can help you navigate everything from the care you receive while you’re alive to how your assets will be allocated after you die. Depending on your circumstances, needs and situation, you may or may not need help from an elder law attorney.
- If you’re moving into an assisted-living facility for long-term care and want to transfer your assets to your spouse
- If you want to file a claim for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or disability
- If you need to file a claim for age discrimination against an employer
- If you want to establish an estate plan, living trust or will
- If you need help addressing and resolving issues at an assisted-living facility
- If you need legal advice regarding housing, including discrimination and equity conversions
- If you want to appoint a conservator, guardian or power of attorney
In addition to filing legal paperwork, elder law attorneys can help you navigate challenging family situations, including confirming your children’s care after you die, drawing up a family-care contract after you move in with one of your children or regaining control of your assets if family intervenes.
Which Financial Situations Can an Elder Law Attorney Help With?
Elder law attorneys can help with a range of financial situations aimed at protecting and maximizing your assets.
- Establishing or updating an estate plan, living trust and will
- Estate plans can not only help determine what happens to your assets once you’re gone, but also how they’re preserved or used while you’re alive. An elder law attorney can help redirect your assets to help cover the cost of your care.
- Applying for and maintaining Medicaid
- Many elder law attorneys are experts at assisting with Medicaid coverage for long-term care, as well as help you fill out and submit the Medicaid application, handle Medicaid hearings or appeals, and ensure your eligibility.
- Appointing a conservator, guardian, and power of attorney
- You can establish who you want to manage everything from your financial affairs to your healthcare decisions if you are unable to do so yourself. An elder law attorney can help you decide not only which is right for you but also make sure you select who you want to oversee each area. A conservator is the person responsible for managing your assets and property. A guardian is broadly responsible for making medical, housing and personal decisions on your behalf. A power of attorney has legal authority to make both financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf, depending on which you choose, without needing to involve the court.
- Finding assisted living, memory care, or home health care
- If you have special health care needs, then an elder law attorney can also help you and your family understand and explore treatment and long-term care options, including assisted living, memory care and home health care options. They can also prepare and help you qualify for applicable federal and state programs to pay for the cost of care.
Contact an elder law attorney to determine whether they can assist you with your specific financial situation.
Do Elder Law Attorneys Assist with Familial Situations?
Yes, elder law attorneys can help you navigate complex family situations. Below are some of the most common familial situations that elder law attorneys can assist.
- If you get remarried at any point, are recently divorced, or recently lost your spouse or another family member
- If you own one or more businesses
- If you own real estate in more than one state
- If you have a disability, have a family member with a disability or have a spouse who has been deemed incapacitated and requires long-term care
- If you have children under 18, have problematic children or don’t have any children at all
- If you want to donate some or all your estate to charity
- If you have substantial assets in 401(k)s and/or IRAs
- If you have taxable estate for federal and/or state tax purposes
Elder law attorneys can also provide counseling to help you avoid others— such as the state, an ex spouse or the IRS— gaining control of your assets.
How Will an Elder Law Attorney Impact Your Finances?
Elder law attorneys help you protect your overall wellbeing and your finances, especially as many older people are more susceptible to abuse, exploitation and fraud. According to the National Center of Elder Abuse, one in six people over the age of 65 experience some form of abuse, including psychological, physical and financial — costing victims nearly $3 billion each year.
An elder law attorney can help you avoid or navigate these situations. They can also help you plan your finances for the future, establish an estate plan and ensure you have access to the care you need.
The cost of an elder law attorney depends on the legal services you need, where you live, and their experience level. According to Forbes, their services can range from $350 to $650 per hour to help you appoint a guardian, or up to $8,000 to $16,000 for a holistic package aimed to preserve your assets when you have familial complications.
Before hiring an elder law attorney, you should consider shopping around and ask about rates or flat fees. It’s also worth considering how much help you think you’ll need or how much of their assistance you require.
In many instances, it can be helpful to select an attorney before you need one. They can review paperwork and help you save money in the long run.
3 Cited Research Articles
- Hipp, Deb. (2022, June 23). Hiring An Elder Law Attorney. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/health/healthy-aging/elder-law-attorney
- Patrick & Associates. (n.d.) Power of Attorney, Guardianship, and Conservatorship: Understanding the Differences. Retrieved from: https://patricklegal.com/power-of-attorney-vs-guardianship-vs-conservatorship/
- National Center on Elder Abuse. (n.d.) Research Statistics and Data. Retrieved from: https://ncea.acl.gov/What-We-Do/Research/Statistics-and-Data.aspx