Frequently Asked Questions

What is elder law?

Elder law is an area of legal practice focusing on issues that concern the aging population.  Elder law attorneys handle a wide range of concerns surrounding elder care including long-term care options, protecting assets from long-term care, retirement, nursing home resident rights, Medicaid planning, and estate planning such as wills, trusts, and Powers of Attorney.

How can an elder law attorney help me?

Elder law attorneys are advocates for elderly individuals and their loved ones.  They have specialized knowledge and experience concerning public and private resources and services that can help meet the needs of senior citizens, including those with disabilities.  An elder law attorney helps seniors and their families obtain their necessary legal documents and protect their legal rights.

Why should I select an elder law attorney who is certified?

By selecting a certified elder law attorney, you gain the assurance that you are receiving accurate thorough advice from a uniquely trained attorney.  Certified elder law attorneys are committed through certification to maintain and improve their proficiency with both continual practice and continuing legal education.  A certified elder law attorney must meet comprehensive and strict requirements established by the National Elder Law Foundation which is the only recognized authority to certify elder law attorneys by the American Bar Association. 

What is a living will?

A living will is a document that addresses important questions such as your preferences for tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain medication and whether or not you want to be kept on life support if you become terminally ill.  A living will becomes effective only when you cannot communicate your desires on your own.

Why do I need a will?

A will is a crucial part of any estate plan that specifies your wishes after your death regarding care of your children, distribution of your assets, and naming executors.  Failure to prepare a will means that decisions about your assets, who will manage your estate, and who will act as guardian for your children when you die will be made by your state’s law instead of you.

How can I change my will?

A will may be changed through the use of a codicil to your existing will or by making a new will.

Should I consider having a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is essential if you have money and assets to protect or if you need to give another person the power to act for you if you were to become incapacitated.

What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives another person the power to act on your behalf and make decisions about your health care.

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

Medicare is an insurance program that can cover medical expenses for individuals who are at least 65 years old or who are under 65 years old and have a disability.  Medicaid is an assistance program that can cover nursing home and assisted living costs. An important distinction is that Medicare is not long-term care insurance, whereas Medicaid can provide coverage for long-term care after your assets have been depleted.

When should I begin planning for Medicaid?

In essence, it is almost never too early to be proactive and begin planning for later years.  It is also often never too late to seek help from an elder law attorney who can use a variety of legal strategies to help you qualify for Medicaid.

When should I begin estate planning?

No matter what stage of life you are in, there are steps you can take to better plan for your future and achieve peace of mind.  An elder law attorney can help you protect your loved ones from the costs of you not having an estate plan, such as inheritance tax, estate tax, surety band, and other expenses.  Estate planning allows you to transfer assets to your heirs while creating the smallest possible tax burden for them.