Defining Elder Law
Estate planning is a general area of law filled with strategies and tactics implemented to assist you with having control over your finances when you pass away, creating a plan for yourself in the unfortunate event of incapacitation, and a blueprint of what should happen during your lifetime in the event you want to apply the strategy of asset protection. When discussing Elder Law, we refer to advocating for senior citizens and their needs from an estate perspective. Elder law can encompass the following:
- Various nuances and issues relating to healthcare
- Long term health-care planning
- Medicare/Medicaid planning
- Guardianship appointment
- Trust and will preparation
- Funeral arraignments
- Retirement options
In general, elder law is all about assisting the elderly. This is not to say the items mentioned above do not apply for younger individuals. Rather, the primary focus of elder law is to see how the realm of estate planning relates to those of a more mature age.
Elder Law Application
As one gets older, they are typically disconnected from considering an adjustment to their estate plan. It is crucial to have an estate law/elder law lawyer available to remind you on how to appropriately approach the shift in your life as you age. Here is a list of items to consider:
- Think about creating a durable power of attorney. This document appoints another individual to make decisions and actions on your behalf. From paying your bills to depositing a check to the bank, you control what exactly the appointed individual can and cannot do.
- Consider drafting a living will. End of life medical decisions should be made by you and you only. Unfortunately if a living will is not present, such decisions are made by someone else. Take control of this aspect in your life by getting the proper documentation prepared.
- If you have loved ones who are your dependents, be it a minor or a mentally challenged person, your passing leaves their future in the hands of the court system. By appointing a guardian, you decide who should be their new caretaker.
- Become aware nursing home resident rights to ensure you are aware of the law in the event you have to enter into a long term care facility.
- Understand the usefulness of a will and a trust. If you have a specified way on how you want your assets distributed when you pass away, looking into a will and trust is necessary. There is also a process called "probate" which is the process of verifying a will that has to be done. In order to avoid the probate process you would want to have a trust prepared.
This area of law can be much more vast and it is always recommend to find a local estate planning lawyer that is well versed in elder law. The sooner you begin thinking about your future, the less unpredictability you will face that can not only hurt you financially but your loved ones as well.