Elder law is an important branch of the law that addresses the legal needs of some of the most vulnerable among us – the elderly. As the population of the United States continues to live longer, healthier lives, elder law has become more and more relevant. Because there are also challenges associated with living longer, our older residents tend to also face unique legal concerns, and working closely with an experienced Pennsylvania attorney is the surest path forward.
The Role of the Elder Law Attorney
Elder law attorneys take on the legal challenges that the aging among us tend to face, including:
- Long-term care planning
- Estate planning concerns, including wills and trusts
- Concerns related to end of life
- Housing assistance and housing options for the elderly in need
- Managing housing costs for the elderly
- Addressing the legal rights of nursing home residents
- Concerns related to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation
- Issues related to age discrimination in employment
- Veterans’ benefits
- State and federal legislation as it specifically relates to the elderly
Financial and Healthcare Power of Attorney
An important issue that people face as they age – and that all of us should address – is establishing powers of attorney for both one’s finances and one’s healthcare needs. These powerful legal documents designate who will make critical decisions related to either your financial needs (with a financial power of attorney) or your healthcare needs (with a healthcare power of attorney) in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself. You designate power of attorney (whether financial or health care) to someone whom you trust implicitly to carry out your wishes in the matter.
If There Is No Power of Attorney in Place
If your aging relative reaches the point of incapacitation suddenly and has no financial or healthcare power of attorney in place (or if he or she failed to address the matter), an experienced elder law attorney can guide you in legal guardianship proceedings, which can be an exceptionally complicated endeavor.
Anticipating a Move
Another beneficial role served by elder law attorneys is regularly reviewing contracts related to all the following:
- In-home healthcare agencies
- Continuing care retirement communities
- Assisted living facilities
- Nursing homes
These contracts tend to be highly specific, and engaging the critical eye of an experienced elder law attorney to review yours (or your loved one’s) can not only bolster your peace of mind but can also help protect your legal rights.
Protecting Assets under the Law
Protecting your financial rights as you age can prove exceptionally complicated in relation to the highly specific state and federal rules, regulations, and restrictions that apply to Medicare and Medicaid laws, which determine access to benefits that are often necessary to pay for long-term care. There are laws in place that can help with the following, but the rules are demanding and must be followed closely:
- Asset protection for a married senior who remains at home while his or her spouse lives in a nursing facility
- Legal asset transfers to another, such as to a child who is disabled, without affecting one’s own eligibility for benefits (trust are often required) – there are many other instances in which asset transfers are not allowed and can lead to legal problems
These are complicated legal matters related to important financial decisions, and having an experienced elder law attorney in your corner is always well advised.
Often, one family member will take on the challenging but rewarding role of providing care in a family member’s home. Because the caregiver often leaves his or her career to do so, there is the issue of compensation to consider. The law does address the matter of reasonable compensation in some circumstances, and a skilled elder law attorney can help you address the matter of a caregiver’s contract.
It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Pennsylvania Elder Law Attorney
If you or your loved one is facing a legal matter or a significant life event that is directly related to your advanced age, you owe it to yourself to consult with a trusted Pennsylvania elder law attorney who has the experience, legal insight, and drive to help. At Luschas, Naparsteck, & Crane, LLP, we take your concerns seriously and are committed to skillfully pursuing a favorable resolution that works for you. We are here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 570-799-8809 today for more information about what we can do for you.
How do I know if I need an elder law attorney?
If you are facing a legal, financial, or healthcare concern that is specific to you or your loved one’s advanced age, it is an excellent idea to consult with a dedicated elder law attorney who has considerable experience guiding issues like yours toward advantageous outcomes.
Do I need a power of attorney for health care?
If you have definite wishes related to the health care you receive and you want them to be respected – even in the event you are incapacitated (and therefore unable to voice your wishes at the time) – having a healthcare power of attorney is imperative. The fact is that a serious illness, which can happen at any time to anyone, can leave you incapacitated and, therefore, unable to make your own healthcare decisions (if you have not allocated someone whom you trust implicitly with healthcare power of attorney who can do so on your behalf).
What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?
Many people are confused by what the difference between Medicaid and Medicare is, and the distinction is an important one. Medicare refers to a federal health insurance program that is available to the following people (regardless of their income):
- Those who are at least 65 years old
- Those with certain physical and/or mental disabilities
Medicaid, on the other hand, is a healthcare program (including long-term care coverage) that federal and state governments fund jointly for those who meet specific requirements related to income and overall resources. Medicaid coverage varies from state to state.