A Conversation about Elder Law

As the New Year has begun and the holidays have passed now is a good time to understand and have a conversation with family about Elder and Special Needs Law. An estimated 78 million Baby Boomers turned 65 in 2011. By 2020 that number is expected to double. People are living longer and have fewer children that live further away. Long term home and facility care costs are ballooning to beyond $158 billion. Planning to cover these costs is critical. This blog post will give you an idea of family issues addressed by Elder and Special Needs Law Attorneys.

What is Elder and Special Needs Law?

Elder and Special Needs Law are specialized areas of law that involve representing, counseling, and assisting seniors, people with disabilities, and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, from estate planning to long term care issues, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for the individuals. Typically, Elder and Special Needs Law attorneys address the client’s perspective from a holistic viewpoint by addressing legal, medical, financial, social and family issues.

What issues do we address as Elder and Special Needs Law Attorneys?

Elder and Special Needs Law attorneys advise families about what they should consider with regard to retirement income, long-term care, lifestyle and housing needs, and preferences. In addition, wills, living wills, durable powers of attorney for property and health and insurance coverage.

Who needs to see an Elder and Special Needs Law Attorney?

An Elder and Special Needs Law Attorney can help seniors, family members of seniors, people with disabilities, those facing end of life and those facing long-term care. We are specifically qualified to help families understand how insurance and government benefits like Medicaid, SSI, Veterans Benefits and Special Assistance programs are interconnected with estate and asset protection planning.

When do I need to see an Elder and Special Needs Law Attorney?

Generally it is good to speak with an Elder and Special Needs Law Attorney about advanced planning as you near retirement. Advanced planning for your future care needs and disabilities is certainly the best. There are many techniques for advanced planning that are available that can protect a senior or person with a disability by planning for access to insurance or government benefits. If planning is done in advance we can generally maintain the benefits of favorable tax and estate planning laws to middle class families.

Often seniors and their family do not realize that planning is needed until care needs are already upon them or the senior’s health is already failing. There are planning techniques available to an Elder and Special Needs Law Attorney for access to government benefits to cover the cost of home or facility care.

How do I know that my family member needs in-home or facility care?

Since so many families live far away from one another, the holidays may be a limited opportunity to see senior family members in person. We receive many calls during the holidays from family members that are shocked at what they find. Telephone conversations have not revealed the situation that they find when they visit. Family members should be looking at for red flags of declining health as a need to see the senior’s physician:

Weight Loss, there are many serious conditions that can be the cause of weight loss;

Balance, if balance has declined that could be a sign of joint or muscle problems or even a sign of dementia;

Increased anxiety over matters that the senior may have considered trivial in the past;

Depression, if the senior has developed depression or showing signs of withdrawal it can be a sign of physical ailments or even another sign of dementia; and

Poor housekeeping, extra unsafe clutter, unopened mail and expired medication bottles can be a sign of declining mental capacity and a need for additional care.

If you identify any of these issues then you should see the senior’s family physician and elder law attorney for planning options. An Elder and Special Needs Law Attorney at McGuire, Wood & Bissette can guide you though the government benefits, tax and estate planning that is necessary to allow seniors and persons with disabilities to live well and cover the cost for care needs that may arise.

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