Did you know that most seniors at one point or another during their retirement will have to deal with at least one legal issue? Set aside the fact that almost all seniors will need to write a will and plan other end-of-life issues, many spend a majority of their day battling insurance companies, healthcare providers, and various government agencies trying to get the care and benefits they deserve. If this describes your situation, you might want to consider hiring a good elder law attorney. These attorneys understand all the aspects of elder law and can help you focus on enjoying your retirement rather than fighting through it.
Many people think that any lawyer can handle any legal situation, and while they might be able to advise or give general legal help for some issues, if they don’t specialize in elder law they don’t fully understand the complexities. Elder law tends to be very connected and if you make a decision in one area it will most like affect several other areas. Your VA or Medicaid benefits are a good example of this. If your personal assets, which determine what kind of benefits you get, change due to an inheritance you might not get the same amount of benefits and that can affect your health care.
Choosing an elder law attorney will help you sort through all the complicated aspects of the law and make sure you don’t make a bad decision that could have long-term consequences. An elder law attorney is also a good resource for seniors as they’re often well-connected to the senior community and all its resources. If you have a non-legal issue, chances are your attorney can help point you in the right direction or connect you with the right people.
Seniors should turn to an elder law attorney if they are planning their estate, need to write a will or make edits to a current one, or if they have any questions that have to do with an aspect of elder law. Family members should also consider an elder law attorney if they have questions about legal guardianship or suspect their loved one is the victim of senior abuse. It’s also a good idea to talk to an elder law attorney if the senior in your life is no longer able to manage their affairs.
Right from the beginning of planning your estate you should think about using the services of an elder law attorney. Again, this is a complicated process and you don’t want to misstep and cause bigger problems. An elder law attorney who can navigate advance healthcare directives and federal benefits as well as understand asset ownership and transfer could prove invaluable. Using an attorney will also make your retirement simple, secure, and stress-free.
Other issues that could warrant the counsel of an elder law attorney are:
Medicaid and VA benefits
Insurance claims or appeals
Long-term care options
It’s always a good idea to find out what areas of elder law your attorney specializes in as not every lawyer will be an expert in every aspect.
Start by asking trusted family and friends if they have any recommendations on attorneys in your area. If you know other lawyers, they might be able to give you a referral too. The internet is another good place to search and you can start with the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the National Elder Law Foundation as well as the Super Lawyers website which lets you look at the top elder law attorneys in your city.
The Tennessee Bar Association has a lawyer referral service for different parts of the state as well as information on what to do in your initial consultation. You can also find legal aid services if you are a low-income family.
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