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 heightened importance. With that in mind, the Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC explain five things you should know about elder law.
- Elder law is a specialized area of the law. 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 provides both training and certification in 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.
- The elderly face unique legal issues. 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 planningElder abuse and neglectEligibility for and/or denial of benefits (SSDI, VA, Medicare etc.)Discrimination in housing and other areasGuardianship
- Estate planning
- An elder law attorney can help you with long-term care planning. 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. One way to plan is 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.
- An elder law attorney can help you if someone you love was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It is critical that an individual who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 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. 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 now.
- An elder law attorney can help you plan for the possibility of incapacity by helping you create an advance directive. 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 Los Angeles Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law, contact the experienced Los Angeles elder law attorneys at Schomer Law Group APCby calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.