Why Hire an Elder Law Attorney
Elder law is a relatively recent area of legal practice that embraces a wide range of matters that uniquely affect individuals as they age. Elder law attorneys are compassionate, caring lawyers dedicated to helping senior clients and their families avoid preventable legal problems, protect assets, and maximize available benefits for seniors.
People often have a misconception that the need for an elder law attorney doesn’t arise until a problem occurs. That impression is completely mistaken. Every senior can benefit from consulting with an elder law attorney to prepare for the future and avoid common problems that happen as people grow older.
Understanding Elder Law
An elder law attorney provides comprehensive legal services for matters that naturally arise later in life. The practice of elder law includes estate planning services like wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. But elder law also encompasses far more than traditional estate planning.
Estate planning is generally understood as a process that focuses primarily on preparing for disposition of your assets after your death. But it also includes addressing situations that may arise during your life. For seniors, the focus on potential issues later in life becomes extremely important. For that reason, elder law attorneys focus on legal services that address late-life matters, in addition to traditional estate planning goals.
Health and finance concerns are far different for a senior than they are for a younger person. In addition, the possibility of incapacity must be addressed before a person becomes incapacitated later in life. Assets need to be protected and maximized, particularly with concern for potential long-term care needs at home or in a facility. Elder law attorneys address all those concerns as part of their services.
Long-term care planning and Medicaid planning are part of an elder law practice. Planning ahead for these needs enables you to maximize the benefits of government programs and protect your assets at the same time. Waiting until the need for care arises can result in losing benefits. Trying to prepare for these needs on your own without assistance from an elder law attorney can cause serious legal problems for you and your family.
Addressing Changing Health, Financial & Family Circumstances
As you age, your health care and financial needs change. If you are married, your spouse’s needs change as well. Your family circumstances change too, especially if you have children. Planning for the future must take all these changing circumstances into account.
Many concerns evolve as you grow older. Late-life marriage or divorce, issues with children (including marital problems), retirement asset protection, and death or incapacity of a spouse are some of the many issues that may affect your planning as you age. Protecting your legacy and providing for your needs during your life are the paramount concerns that your elder law attorney helps you address.
If you eventually need help from a caregiver, that development can create problems for you and your family. Especially if a family member assumes caregiver responsibilities, issues that arise can be substantial. You avoid these potential issues by planning ahead for the possibility that you may need caregiver assistance in the future with help from an elder law attorney.
Planning For Potential Incapacity
It is difficult to consider what might happen if your mental or physical capacity diminishes as you age. While everyone hopes they don’t face incapacity issues, the fact is that many aging individuals do. If you don’t plan ahead for these possibilities, you and your family may face substantial problems if they occur.
Some of the most important documents for a senior to have in place are powers of attorney for financial and health care matters. In Georgia, you need a durable financial power of attorney and an advance directive, which also may be referred to as a health care directive. These documents designate individuals to make decisions on your behalf if you become temporarily or permanently unable to make them yourself.
Without this protection in place, your family will need to ask a judge to appoint a guardian and conservator for you. Not only will the court proceeding consume valuable time at a point when you need immediate help, but going to court also costs money and depletes your assets. Court proceedings for an incapacitated family member also can cause family disputes that ruin life-long family relationships.
Ensuring that you are completely protected in the event of incapacity is one of the critical concerns that your elder law attorney helps you address. Your lawyer makes certain that the plan you put in place conforms to all the statutory requirements of Georgia law.
Planning for Your Care Needs
Another important component of elder law involves planning for your potential need for care in the future, whether you stay at home or get care in a long-term care facility. Medicare, Medicaid, and VA benefits may provide some financial assistance, but these government programs involve complex laws and regulations.
Medicaid eligibility poses especially complicated issues. Planning ahead enables you to take advantage of options and tools that may not be available if you wait until the need for care occurs. Your elder law attorney assists with eligibility issues, regardless of your circumstances.
Talk With a Georgia Elder Law Attorney
Our Cartersville practice at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia includes comprehensive elder law services as well as full estate planning services relating to creating and maintaining an estate plan.
We provide elder law and estate planning services to clients throughout the communities northwest of Atlanta, including in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, and Paulding County. Call us at (770) 382-0984 or contact us through our online form.