As parents and relatives become older, it can be challenging to balance respecting their autonomy and independence. Also, they will go through different physical and mental problems. So, it also becomes essential to keep them healthy and calm.
One thing that can ruin their mental peace is age-related legal issues. You will have to think about wills, your properties, asset distribution, and other finances. So, having an elder law attorney can help seniors greatly.
What Is Elder Law Attorneys for Seniors?
Your elderly loved one will end up needing lawyer support for many different reasons. They can be:
- having financial or legal issues
- queries about house selling
- moving to senior housing
- estate management
- asset safeguarding
- senior tax preparation tips
Attorneys work in particular areas. An elder law attorney focuses on challenges that elderly people face. They can be elder abuse and guardianship. If you need help in moving to assisted living, navigating the maze of healthcare alternatives, or if you are unsure of your loved one’s rights in medical, financial or legal problems, you should hire an elder law attorney.
What to Consider before Hiring an Elder Law Attorney
Choose an elder law attorney who specializes in the areas of law where you need assistance right now. For example, you might want someone with experience in financial planning, real estate and housing difficulties, and long-term care.
You may want to consult with different elder law attorneys at different times. You will need specific experiences and skilled lawyers. A more prominent firm may have teams of elder law experts who can help in a variety of ways. A boutique law firm may be able to direct you to another lawyer in the region who can help you with specific difficulties.
At first, you should always opt for a free consultation. If that doesn’t work out, then you can attempt to represent your aging loved one all by yourself.
Caring for an elderly person is already a full-time job. Hiring an elder law caregiver is one of the finest methods to protect your elderly loved ones and their assets.
A Holistic Approach to Legal Concerns
Elder law experts usually take a comprehensive approach to your aging loved one’s case. For example, when communicating legal circumstances and advocating for their clients, they are aware of the emotional, mental and physical challenges that older persons encounter. As a result, lawyers act with compassion and care. They prioritize their clients’ well-being in all of their decisions.
They can also assess a client’s physical and mental capabilities to argue for the most appropriate course of action. This will provide autonomy and the highest possible well-being for your senior loved one.
To help them make the best decisions for their clients, elder law attorneys frequently collaborate with a team of psychologists, social workers, senior caregivers and doctors.
How to Legally Force a Loved One to Move to a Senior Living Facility?
The signs are clear: your senior loved one is no longer safe at home. Perhaps your father has triggered fires from forgetting to switch off the stove. Maybe your mom is vulnerable to falling and ends up in the hospital on a regular basis. No matter how much you try to pursue your parents to move to senior living communities, nothing seems to work. Your loved one is adamant about not shifting.
When it comes to safeguarding the well-being of a loved one, caregivers face a variety of obstacles. When an elderly person refuses to accept the help they clearly need and continues to put themselves in danger, family members feel powerless, disappointed, and constantly frightened. What should an adult kid do if their aging parent refuses to live alone? The only legal means to compel someone into a long-term care facility against their will is to get guardianship. This is also called conservatorship.
How Does Guardianship Work?
Going to court is a part of the process, and it can take a long time. In certain circumstances, a family member will start the process. In contrast, the county’s adult protective services (APS) agency will file a court petition to appoint a guardian. The latter occurs when a neighbor or other concerned party complains that a senior is subjected to elder abuse or neglect, whether perpetrated by others or self-inflicted.
The Process of Obtaining Guardianship
Only a person incapable of making rational judgments and caring for oneself can be granted guardianship. If a senior is competent, they have the right to choose how and where they live, even if their choices place them in danger of damage, disease, or death.
Suppose a cognitively impaired adult has moments of clarity and can state that they want to stay at home. In that case, the judge will usually rule that they can. And then, order the appointed guardian to put in place appropriate systems. This can include in-home care and home modifications to ensure their safety and well-being.
Things Elder Law Attorneys for Seniors Can Do to Help Family Caregivers
Elder law attorneys specialize in representing seniors and take a holistic approach to the legal concerns that arise as people age. The issues can raise particularly in the areas like:
- Financial well-being
- Long-term Care
An elder law attorney can assist family caregivers in exploring options for their loved one’s current situation. They can explain how to plan for the future, mainly when a debilitating illness may demand long-term care.
According to the National Academy of Elder Law Practitioners, elder law spans various law sectors. Senior legal caregivers specialize in a variety of areas, including:
- Estate and trust administration and management
- Abuse and deception of the elderly
- Probate, trusts, wills, and other financial papers are all part of estate planning.
- Placements in nursing homes and life care communities for long-term care
- Appeals and claims for Medicare and Social Security
- When a spouse enters a nursing facility, assets must be preserved or transferred to avoid spousal impoverishment
Whether you’re trying to figure out a current long-term care situation or plan for a possible future scenario, here are six things an elder law attorney can do to help family caregivers:
Advise what is best for the client
According to Patrick Simasko, a qualified elder law attorney in Mount Clemens, Michigan, families are typically divided on the type of care they want for their parents. Yet, an elder law attorney may give sound advice without being swayed by emotions.
“Every parent wants to stay at home. But, that’s not always the greatest advice. Firstly, the attorney must advise on what tactics should be implemented to protect the elderly loved one.”
Develop a plan for long-term care
Because an elder law attorney sees nearly every type of financial and medical situation that seniors and their families. As parents or relatives become older, it can be challenging to strike a balance between respecting their autonomy and independence. You will also need to safeguard them from the negative repercussions of physical issues or dealing with mental health concerns.
Ensure that a durable power of attorney is in place
You can consider working with a senior lawyer when:
- there is no power of attorney
- there is a lack of decision-making capacity of finances
- seniors become incapacitated
If the senior is already incompetent and lacks durable powers of attorney, an elder law attorney can file for guardianship. This will allow you or another guardian to manage personal or financial affairs.
Help with accessing Medicaid
Medicaid is usually familiar to a trained elder law attorney. They can help you and your loved one become eligible and apply for benefits.
Elder law attorneys can also provide information about veterans’ benefits and additional government resources.
Protect assets from financial exploitation
Elder law attorneys can alert family members to financial exploitation they might otherwise have missed when Dad and Mom slow down or their health declines. That gives a lousy neighbor the opportunity to come over and start ‘helping out’ or an adult child to obtain access to financial accounts.
Ways to Choose an Elder Law Attorney
Not everyone professing to be an elder law attorney has the requisite experience and knowledge to advise aging clients.
According to the National Elder Law Foundation, a certified elder law attorney (CELA) must have practiced elder law for a particular number of hours each week for a specific number of years and completed a particular number of hours of continuing education (NELF).
Find a certified elder law attorney in your location or state by searching the National Elder Law Foundation or the NAELA. For additional information about elder law attorneys, go to the NAELA website.
As you can see, the process of moving your parents to a senior living facility might be a difficult one. However, every situation is unique, and who knows? This might be the thing required to ensure that your loved one enjoys the best remaining years of their life.
As the population of seniors continues to grow, so does the demand for elder law attorneys. These legal experts are now shifting their focus from traditional estate planning to senior living options. Seeking elder law attorneys for seniors is a unique option. You can get their assistance to legally move seniors to senior living. If you need more information or assistance on this topic, BoomersHub advisors are also here to support you in the transition.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does an elder law attorney do?
An elder law attorney is a legal professional who specializes in issues affecting the elderly, including estate planning, long-term care, and retirement. They can help seniors and their families navigate the complex legal landscape, and ensure that their interests are protected as they age. Elder law attorneys may also provide guidance on programs and benefits available to older adults, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
How much do elder law attorneys charge?
The answer to this question varies depending on the attorney’s location, experience, and the type of services that are requested. Generally, elder law attorneys charge anywhere from $250 to $300 per hour. However, some may charge more or less depending on the situation.
Should I hire an elder law attorney?
It depends on your specific situation. If you or a senior loved one is in need of legal advice for estate planning, long-term care planning, or retirement planning, it might be a good idea to hire an elder law attorney. Because these legal terms and regulations can be complex and difficult to understand. An attorney can help you understand your options and make the best decisions for you and your family.
How to choose an elder law attorney?
When looking for an elder law attorney, there are a few things you should keep in mind. The most important factor is finding an attorney who has experience with the specific issues you are facing. You should also consider the attorney’s fees and whether they offer a free consultation.
How to find a good elder law attorney?
You can begin your search for an elder law attorney by contacting your local bar association or searching online. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, you can schedule a consultation to discuss your needs and ask any questions you have. You may also ask around for recommendations from your friends and family.
What questions should I ask an elder law attorney?
Some questions you may want to ask an elder law attorney include:
- What experience do they have with elder law issues or specific to your case?
- Do they have any particular specialty within elder law?
- What is their fee structure?
- What planning documentation is needed?
- If your senior loved one can sign documents if they have dementia or Alzheimer’s.
- Do they offer any free consultation?
- Will they represent you in court if necessary?
- What is their policy on working with family members or others who may be helping you with your case?
- If they are licensed in your state.
- How long have they been in practice?
- Have they ever been disciplined by a professional organization or the bar association?
- What are the different types of legal arrangements for the elderly and their pros and cons?