Few people want to imagine growing old, but a time comes in every person's life when he or she must begin planning for their golden years, including making arrangements regarding their healthcare and housing. Elder planning can be confusing, but having an experienced, knowledgeable person on your side can make all the difference.
Elder care attorneys can offer expertise in areas of managed care and government plans that can help individuals retain more of their personal assets, even when their ability to control those assets is compromised. Elder lawyers are well versed in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and can help clients navigate their way through other potentially complex issues and programs as well.
Elder care attorneys and those who specialize in estate planning may have specific knowledge of any or all of the following areas:
■ Social Security and disability claims and appeals
■ Preservation of assets
■ Tax planning
■ Conservatorships and guardianships
■ Elder abuse and fraud recovery
■ Housing issues and nursing home placement
■ Estate administration
■ Managed care
According to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc., finding an elder care or special needs attorney can take a little research. Specialized senior groups like AARP or groups advocating for certain diseases, may be able to offer information regarding local elder care attorneys. You also can consult with an attorney you trust and ask for a recommendation. You may want to choose a NAELA Member Attorney, so you can rest easy knowing the attorney is meeting national standards. You may also seek referrals from friends or family members.
If finances are a concern, address these concerns with the attorney. Some will charge hourly or offer a flat fee. Rates may be negotiable, and keep in mind that the money spent on retaining an attorney may pale in comparison to finances that could be wasted by going through the legal process alone.
Overall, elder care attorneys can help seniors and their heirs navigate the confusing waters of estate planning and managed care.