Whether for yourself, or for someone you care for, you will likely need to rely on an elder law attorney at some point in your life for advice and/or guidance. As the nation’s population of older individuals continues to grow at a heretofore unprecedented pace, legal issues that impact the elderly have taken on a heightened importance. While it is always best to consult directly with an elder law attorney with specific questions you may have, the Creve Couer elder law attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC have provided the answers to five of the most common elder law questions.
- How is an elder law attorney different than other attorneys? As the elderly population began to grow several decades ago, it started to become clear that the legal issues that impact them needed to be addressed. Consequently, the relatively new area of the law known as “elder law” began to evolve. That area of the law has grown to the point where there is now a national organization that providing both training and certification in the area of elder law. An elder law lawyer, therefore, is a lawyer who has chosen to focus much, or all, of his/her practice on legal issues that impact the elderly and those who care for them. Unlike other areas of specialty, however, an elder law lawyer does not focus on learning everything there is to know about a single area of the law. Instead, an elder law lawyer is more concerned with how the elderly are impacted by various legal issues and problems.
- What are some common legal issues that are unique to the elderly? The elderly face many of the same legal issues as do people still in their working years; however, there are some legal issues that are unique to the elderly or that impact the elderly differently, including:
- Long-term care planning
- Elder abuse and neglect
- Eligibility for and/or denial of benefits (SSDI, VA, Medicare etc.)
- Discrimination in housing and other areas
- Estate planning
- What is Medicaid planning and do I need to include it in my estate plan? As you age, your likelihood of eventually needing to spend time in a long-term care (LTC) facility increases dramatically. If you do end up in a LTC facility, the cost of that care could wipe out your retirement nest egg rapidly unless you planned ahead. One way to plan ahead it to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan. Medicaid planning aims to protect your assets while setting you up to be eligible for Medicaid if you need it to help cover the cost of LTC in the future.
- My mother was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. What legal steps do we need to take? Over 5 million people are currently living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and one in three of seniors will die with the disease. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a cure for the disease nor a way to stop the memory loss and dementia that eventually occurs with Alzheimer’s. As such, it is critical that an individual who has recently been diagnosed with the disease take the time to update important legal documents such as a Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents. It is also wise to plan for the eventual incapacity that is part of Alzheimer’s. Decide who will make medical decisions for you and execute an advance directive to that effect. A voluntary guardianship is also something that should be considered. Because an Alzheimer’s sufferer will eventually reach a point at which the mental capacity to execute legal documents no longer exists, it is important to update and/or create anything that might be needed in the future
- What is an advance directive and do I need one? An advance directive allows you to make important decisions regarding your healthcare now in case you cannot make them in the future. Most states recognize two types of advance directives. The first is usually referred to as a “Healthcare Power of Attorney” or something similar and allows you to appoint an Agent who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. The second is what most people know as a living will. This type of advance directive lets you accept or reject certain end of life medical treatments in advance, such as keeping you alive through the use of artificial nutrients or giving you pain medication.
Contact Creve Couer Elder Law Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law legal issues, contact the experienced Creve Couer elder law lawyers at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.