As the title suggests, an elder law attorney specializes in legal issues relating to elders. This specialty became more well-known beginning in the 1980s when the legal issues seniors were facing had become more complicated in many ways. Changes in Medi-Cal laws and an increase in nursing home care needs among seniors, among other issues, made elder law attorneys more popular. You may be wondering why you would need a Los Angeles elder law attorney. Here are a few examples.
What is an Elder Law Attorney?
An elder law attorney is like any other attorney, but with special training and experience in the common legal issues affecting seniors in our country. This makes them experts in the legal field of elder law. Another thing that makes elder law attorneys special is their ability to anticipate issues which helps their clients plan for the future. Elder law requires more than just legal advocacy but involves client counseling, education, and planning.
Customized legal advice for you and your family
The key to providing the best customized legal advice is to work closely with clients and families so that their specific needs and goals can be addressed. As attorneys, we need to become familiar with our client’s health care needs and the family dynamic. This exceptional insight makes elder law attorneys better capable of handling their client’s legal needs.
Understanding the common myths about the elderly
Another important aspect of being an elder law attorney is recognizing the myths from the facts when it comes to seniors. There are so many myths circulating out there regarding the elderly and their competency in general. It takes wisdom and knowledge to be able to recognize the real physical and mental challenges that seniors often face, as opposed to the fallacies that society may perpetuate. It is also important to recognize the importance of maintaining as much freedom and autonomy for seniors as possible.
Legal issues your Los Angeles elder law attorney may handle
As with every specialty, there are certain basic legal issues that are commonly handled by elder law attorneys. The most common include:
- Medi-Cal and Medicare coverage for long-term care
- Estate planning and administration
- Establishing and administering various types trusts
There’s no substitute for professional advice
Some clients believe they can handle certain legal matters on their own, such as drafting a will or power of attorney. If you are considering substituting the advice of a professional with an online do-it-yourself product, you need to first understand the risks. Your Los Angeles elder law attorney can tell you that the false sense of security DIY products may give can be dangerous.
The risks involved in a DIY will
Take for example a DIY will kit purchased online. You may fill in all the blanks and sign the document believing that everything is in order. However, each state has its own requirements, especially with regard to the number of witness signatures required to make the will valid. If the DIY will you purchased does not comply with the requirements for your state, then your will may not be valid. Furthermore, if the will provisions you write in on the form are not clear, it may be necessary for the probate court to interpret your intentions. These issues may end up costing your family a substantial amount of money, if the will is valid at all.
Potential issues with a DIY power of attorney
Even in situations where your DIY power of attorney is properly drafted and executed, you may still experience resistance from banks and other businesses that are hesitant to honor your power of attorney. However, if you obtain assistance from an attorney who has the legal expertise required to draft complex documents you will have a better chance of accomplishing the planning you need for yourself and your family.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of legal advice
Estate planning, especially for elders, is not “one size fits all” endeavor. Therefore, it is wise to work with an elder law attorney with experience and knowledge regarding your particular situation. Your Los Angeles elder law attorney will be knowledgeable of California’s laws regarding various elder law issues and they will be skilled in drafting wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools. Without their skill and experience, you and your family may encounter many unnecessary challenges in the future.
If you have questions regarding elder law, or any other estate planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.