Elder,Law:,Do,You,Know,About,It?,Yes,Or,No
Linnea Levine

Linnea Levine

The Foundation: The Role of an Elder Law Attorney

Navigating the legal complexities associated with growing older can be overwhelming – right at a time in your life when peace of mind about your lifestyle, healthcare and finances means everything! If you’re planning for your future or caring for an elderly loved one, working with a proactive and caring Elder Law attorney can provide you with the emotional security you deserve. An Elder Law attorney who is on your side and really listens, will provide valuable strategic advice about the issues that are likely to affect you and your family to ensure your particular objectives are met.

Beyond the scope of Trusts and Estates Law, Elder Law also focuses on related areas that particularly impact an older adult. While an Elder Law attorney, such as myself, often assists with estate planning, my firm can also handle a wide range of other interrelated matters that affect a person during their lifetime including government benefits, housing, guardianships, conservatorships and healthcare matters. Taking a holistic approach, we will discuss long-term planning options and draft advance health care directives or durable powers of attorney to protect your control over your personal healthcare, your legal rights and your property.

From understanding Social Security to choosing the right long-term care options and associated costs, older adults and their families have a lot to consider, and a misstep can have a serious impact – sadly, sometimes financial exploitation and abuse. A caring and experienced Elder Law attorney can help you safeguard your economic interests and legal rights.

Medicaid eligibility is an area where an experienced Elder Law attorney who really understands your circumstances, as well as the confusing and frequently changing regulations and requirements, is invaluable. A carefully drafted asset preservation plan that includes all the necessary legal documents, can permit many exclusions of countable assets and income when determining Medicaid eligibility. Such planning strategies should be considered in advance of and during the application process to protect your assets and income.

With regard to the expense of long-term care at home or in a nursing home, we will advocate for you from start to finish by reviewing your options, explaining the benefits and risks, and may assist with filling out the paperwork, filing the application, and providing any supporting documentation. We can help you avoid administrative hearings or, when necessary, represent you at a Fair Hearing for any appeals that may be necessary if benefits are denied, reduced or discontinued.

If your loved one has special needs and cannot manage their financial affairs or care for themselves any longer, it may be necessary to file a petition for conservatorship or guardianship. (In Connecticut, a guardian is a person who is responsible for the personal care and property of a person over age 18 who has been disabled since birth, while a conservator has the authority to handle the person and property of a person who became disabled as an adult.) The conservator process can be lengthy, complex and emotional, so the services, experience and patient counsel of an Elder Law attorney can make it much less stressful. We can also fight to protect the legal rights of the individual in need of a conservator or guardian in court.

Whatever your personal or family situation, an Elder Law attorney will work together with you to address your legal concerns, now and in the future. To make your first meeting productive, take some time to prepare the following:

  • A list of questions, concerns and objectives
  • What is essential to you for preserving quality of living?
  • Any relevant medical records
  • Information about the elder person (e.g. name, date of birth)
  • Relevant financial or estate planning documents
  • A list of assets that you wish to preserve
  • Family member or friend who can be an advocate or caregiver

This will help ensure your attorney has a full understanding of your needs and goals, and can help you implement an effective strategy to meet them. No one can predict the future, but planning ahead with a knowledgeable professional who cares about your needs can provide a sense of control.

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