WHAT IS ELDER LAW?
Elder law is a practice area devoted to serving the needs of the aging population. As an elder law attorney, I help my clients and their families embrace aging with dignity. My elder law practice touches on a variety of different areas that matter to my elderly clients and their families, including:
- Estate Planning & Asset Preservation
- Probate, Estate Administration, and Estate Litigation
- Medicaid Planning
- Long-term Care Planning
- Nursing Home Negligence, Abuse, & Neglect
- Elder Financial Abuse
NURSING Home Medicaid Planning
When it looks like an elderly person or a young person with a debilitating illness may be confined to a nursing home in the future, it is usually a good idea to look into Medicaid planning. Your options for long term care in a nursing home are fairly simple. You can (1) have long-term care insurance to cover the cost, (2) write a check for multiple thousands of dollars per month to a nursing home until your assets are exhausted, or (3) qualify for Medicaid. Under the current Medicaid system, a person going into a nursing home and applying for Medicaid will have to exhaust a signficant portion of their assets before Medicaid will pick up the tab. If you have the time and ability to plan for it, you can transfer assets to avoid having to liquidate them to pay for nursing home care. Instead of having to burn through your savings paying for care, you can make sure those resources go to someone who will actually appreciate them.
The biggest concern for Medicaid planning is that it is a very technical endeavor. It is always a good idea to contact a lawyer on these issues. It is also important to consider timing—Medicaid has a multi-year look-back period where any transfers are flagged. If you need to plan for nursing home care, you should considering doing it as far in advance as you can. If you want to discuss your family's options, I'm always available for a consultation.
WHAT IS GUARDIANSHIP?
The purpose of a guardianship is to protect someone who is unable to protect themselves. Parents are the natural guardians of young children. But once someone becomes an adult, the parent loses control. A guardianship becomes important when a person is unable to tend to their own daily affairs or financial affairs due to health or other reasons. A guardianship might be necessary for a child with developmental disabilities who is turning 18, a young adult who suffers a debilitating stroke or other illness, or an elderly person who slips into dementia or alzheimer's disease.
The court can appoint a guardian over a person's stuff only ("guardian of the estate") or they can provide a guardian with full decision-making ability. The type of guardianship needed is based on the specific circumstances of each case.
Guardianships also become important when the parents of a child die. Usually there is some direction from the parents saying who the guardian should be. But it doesn't happen by magic—the proposed guardian has to ask the Court to appoint them as guardian.
Guardianship issues can be complicated and occasionally contentions. A lawyer can help you sort through it all.