Senior years aren’t always relaxing. There are tough decisions regarding complex matters such as insurance, senior housing, pensions and other retirement funds, government programs, and health care to deal with regularly. Seniors also need to ensure their final wishes and estate affairs are in order with their wills. Because all of these issues can be hard to understand, it may be time to consult an elder law attorney. Hiring a good attorney who understands these complex matters can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches.
Senior issues like Medicaid, estate planning, senior housing, and long-term care can be hard to understand. Several rules and conditions need to be considered and understood. Plus, one decision can affect other areas such as assets and inheritance. For example, assets determine the amount of eligibility for VA Aid & Attendance pension and Medicaid, which in turn also can affect a person’s estate.
In addition to knowing the rules and understanding elder law, these attorneys also know how to handle the emotional side of senior issues can help guide a family through difficult decisions. Most elder law attorneys are also familiar with available community resources that may be able to also provide the right assistance to the client or the family depending on the issue.
You or your family can hire an elder law attorney to assist with legal concerns or to provide advice on senior issues. Family members may need information on how to gain guardianship when the senior is no longer able to handle decisions to help prevent elder abuse such as financial exploitation.
The best time to call an elder law attorney is when you are planning your estate or updating your current will. There are various specializations in elder law that you may want your attorney to have experience with including health care, asset management, and federal benefits to help you plan for other future issues.
In addition to estate planning, you may also want to contact an elder law attorney for advice on other senior matters including:
Insurance and long-term care
Medicaid and VA benefit claims
You will need to find an elder law attorney that is most familiar with your area of need because not all elder attorneys have experience with all senior issues.
Just like hiring any other service, it’s always a good idea to ask your family, friends, and neighbors for referrals. Your financial advisor, family lawyer, or tax accountant may also provide some recommendations. You can perform searches on websites to find attorneys specializing in elder law such as National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Elder Law Foundation, or Super Lawyers. The State Bar of Texas also offers a search tool for elder law attorneys. You should still ask each lawyer about his or her affiliations and experience with all senior issues.
For reduced fees or free legal advice, the State Bar provides a helpline with a nominal fee and also online information on some legal matters.
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