As you enter your “golden years,” you may face more difficult issues than you planned. You need to deal with complicated affairs like insurance, housing, retirement benefits, and government programs. Another big decision you face is creating or updating your will to cover your final wishes. Hiring an elder attorney to guide you through these matters can save you time, money, and a lot of headaches. He or she will help you make the best decisions for you and your family.
Senior issues have several rules and regulations. Each issue can also affect another. For example, you need to follow all rules, or Medicare and Medicaid can create unintended problems with your estate. A senior may be confused when having to deal with matters such as long-term health care, retirement benefits either private or public and other government programs.
Elder attorneys can also provide a holistic approach and help their clients and families with the emotional side of these issues. There are several community resources the attorney can refer their client to if he or she needs more help outside of legal advice.
Either you can hire the attorney directly for your legal matters, or a family can hire for a loved one. Typically, a family will want to hire an attorney if they feel that the senior is no longer capable of making decisions to get guardianship or feel there is some form of elder abuse such as neglect or financial exploitation.
A very good time to contact an attorney is when you need to revise or create a will. You should look for an experienced elder law attorney that is familiar with other senior issues you may want to plan for including long-term health care, retirement funding, and federal benefits. The attorney can then help you with all your matters at once while you are healthy to relieve some stress from your family.
Here are some other issues where you may need legal advice:
Social Security and Disability Claims
Medicare and Medicaid
Long-term health insurance
Transfer of assets
Retirement funding from both private and public entities
Most elder law attorneys do not specialize in all areas of senior matters. When you talk to an elder law attorney, find out which matters are his or her specialty.
A great place to start is to ask for referrals from family, friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances. Your financial planner or tax advisor may also have some local recommendations. You can search these law-affiliated websites that allow you to search by area and specialty, including National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Elder Law Foundation, or Super Lawyers. The State Bar of California also has an attorney search function.
For low-income seniors, the State Bar of California offers legal aid services for free or at reduced rates.
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