Elder law is an area of estate planning specializing in elderly life. It is commonly used by those nearing old age to prolong financial freedom and plan for long-term care.
We know that elder law and issues such as benefits programs can be difficult to understand. As elder law attorneys, we’ve answered some of the top elder law FAQs in easy-to-understand language.
Please contact our elder law attorneys today for a consultation if you need any advice regarding estate planning or elder law.
Elder Law Frequently Asked Questions
At What Age Do I Need to Consider Elder Law?
Everyone should do some basic estate planning (such as a will) regardless of age. However, elder law-specific estate planning should begin by age 60 or upon the diagnosis of a serious injury, illness or disease.
Elder law is all about putting plans in place to help you in your senior years. The earlier you start, the better; you’ll remove the risk of losing capacity, money or assets.
How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help?
Elder law attorneys are professionally trained to help you plan for the future. They have the knowledge and experience to navigate complicated matters such as public benefit programs, asset protection and trusts.
While you can try to create your estate plan on your own, you risk making catastrophic mistakes that invalidate documents, disqualify you from otherwise accessible benefits, and result in you being unaware of estate planning options that could be of great benefit to you and your family.
An estate planning lawyer will also save you a lot of stress and time, so you can relax knowing your future is in safe hands.
Read related: Do I Need an Elder Law Attorney in Florida?
What Preparation Do I Need to Do for Elder Law Planning?
Before speaking to an estate planning lawyer, you should determine your goals and concerns and understand your situation. Ask yourself:
- What do you want your future to look like?
- What are your priorities?
- Do you receive VA benefits?
- When do you want to retire?
- When would you like to take your Social Security?
- What assets do you have?
- What would you like to happen to your pet, if you passed away before them?
- How would you like your estate to be shared?
What Estate Planning Documents Do I Need?
Elder estate planning should include the following legal documents:
- Durable Powers of Attorney for Finances
- Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care
- Health Care Directives or living will
You can also consider:
- Asset protection trusts
- Special and Supplemental Needs Trusts
- Revocable Living Trusts
- Other Types of Trusts
What Are Durable Powers of Attorney?
A ‘Power of Attorney’ (POA) is the authorization given to someone else to decide and manage things, such as finances and health care, on your behalf.
A ‘durable’ power of attorney keeps this authorization in effect even if you become incapacitated following an illness or serious injuries – such as brain injury or dementia.
Durable Powers of Attorney are a crucial part of elder law planning, as it ensures that you have someone you trust ready to act on your behalf. Without it, your loved ones could be left with dilemmas, confusion and uncertainty.
There are two types of Durable Powers of Attorney – financial and health care.
- Financial POA can ensure someone can still pay your bills, and manage your business and assets to protect your family’s wealth.
- Health care POA ensures that a trusted individual can decide upon treatment, medication and life-support options.
What Are Health Care Directives?
Health care directives are instructions that document your health care wishes and instructions. They can include things such as medication, treatment and life-support preferences. Health care directives can also be called a ‘Living Will.’
These advance directives ensure your intentions are respected even if you’re incapacitated. They also remove the burden, stress and confusion placed upon loved ones.
What is Asset Protection?
Asset protection is the structuring of assets so that it is very difficult for creditors to collect the assets.
It can be used at almost any stage of debt and utilizes trusts that still allow you and your family to enjoy and access the assets at your convenience.
Read related: Guide to Asset Protection in Florida
What Are Special Needs Trusts?
Special needs trusts are a type of trust designed to provide benefits to a person with special needs while also protecting them from losing their public benefits eligibility.
Individuals with special needs often risk losing government benefits when receiving an inheritance, but using a special needs trust is a way to avoid that. It can also be used for spouses who need Long-Term Care.
What are Revocable Living Trusts and Do I Need One?
Revocable Living Trusts can be used to gain further control over how your estate is distributed and managed.
Unlike a will, which distributes assets outright after death, a revocable living trust allows you to add specific long-term distribution instructions and terms. They also can protect your assets and escape probate.
For many seniors, a revocable living trust is a wise addition to an estate plan. Please contact our estate planning lawyers to determine if it’s right for you.
Medicare and Medicaid
What is the Difference Between Medicare and Medicaid?
- Medicare is federal health insurance for people aged 65 or older or people with disabilities or End-Stage Renal Disease. All incomes are eligible.
- Medicaid is health coverage for eligible low-income adults only. It is jointly funded by the Federal government and states. Medicaid can be used to fund long-term care.
What Benefits Can Medicaid Provide?
Medicaid provides benefits for acute medical care, long-term care and prescription drugs.
Do Medicaid Users Have to Pay for Their Care?
In most cases, a Medicaid recipient will need to pay for a portion of costs. This portion is based on their gross income, supplemental insurance premium and personal needs allowance.
What Benefits Do Veterans Have Access To?
U.S. Veterans can receive benefits such as health care, disability compensation, pension, Long-Term Care and burials. No service-connected injury or disability is required.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the court process following someone’s death, where their will is proved as valid, assets are transferred to the rightful beneficiaries and outstanding debts are paid.
Why Avoid Probate?
Probate is often a long, stressful and sometimes expensive affair – especially for complicated, wealthy estates with disputes and claimants. It can drag on for months, if not years.
By using certain estate planning tools, such as trusts, you can avoid probate so your family receives their inheritance fast and without stress.
Going through probate requires that your will and estate become available to the public, so the best way to maintain privacy it is to speak with an estate planning attorney that can help you plan ahead.
Many seniors will require medical care or home care assistance. Long-term care refers to the extended or permanent need for care from a caretaker or facility – such as a nursing home, assisted living facility, or senior home care.
Who Pays for Long-Term Care?
Professional long-term care can be paid by your personal income, savings, insurance, government benefits and Medicaid.
Long-term Care insurance is designed to protect seniors against the rising cost of senior care services but not everyone is eligible for insurance, especially if your health is already at risk.
Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care but can pay for rehabilitation services. Medicaid could be the best program to supplement long-term care payments as long as eligibility can be established.
To determine what is right for you, please contact our Elder Law Attorneys.
Hire an Elder Law Attorney in St Petersburg, FL
If you or a family member needs support with elder law estate planning or long-term care, then our Florida elder law attorneys can help. From ensuring benefit eligibility to creating trusts, we can take care of the complicated work.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning, experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you plan for the future today.