Elder Law: Protecting Your Loved Ones and Yourself

On Behalf of | Dec 26, 2013 | Estate Planning |

There’s no avoiding it – you’re getting older. Sometimes our society likes to make that a bad thing, but the truth is that with age comes wisdom, freedom, and perspective. That selfsame wisdom and perspective that you have earned over the years has probably shown you that in time, you’re going to need some help looking after yourself. Between your health and your property, there is a lot to worry about as you enter your golden years, but with the help of an expert in elder law, you can feel confident that no matter what the future holds, you and your loved ones will be cared for.

Elder law sounds like it could be some kind of legal gobbledygook, but the fact is, elder law is exactly what it sounds like: law pertaining to our society’s elders. The issues that our aging population face have necessitated a unique set of laws to help care for them. Generally speaking, there are three major areas of elder law: estate planning, long-term care, and guardianship.

Planning Ahead

While estate planning is probably the furthest issue, chronologically speaking, that you need to concern yourself with, it is also the issue that everyone – regardless of age or disposition – must face. In estate planning, you remove all doubt as to what will happen to your property in the event that you are incapacitated or in the event of your death. When estate planning is not undertaken with care, whole families can be torn apart by the legal battles that ensue; alternatively, everything could easily be lost to your debts and taxes, leaving your loved ones with nothing after your time on this world is over.

With a lawyer who is practiced in elder law, you can develop the will, trusts, beneficiary designations, gifts, and power of attorney necessary to make certain that your estate is disposed of in a manner in keeping with your wishes and desires. This may even be set up to help defer or merely decrease the estate taxes your beneficiaries would face upon your death.

Between the Now and Later

You still have a lot of life to live before all the matters pertaining to your estate become relevant. However, in the years to come, you will face a number of hardships, chief among them being your declining health. None of us intend to become ill or frail, but it happens – that’s just the way of the world. Rather than becoming a burden to your loved ones or receiving inadequate or inappropriate care, you can plan for how you will be cared for in the years to come, should you require such care, by making plans with your lawyer.

The implementation of Medicaid saw some of the earliest forms of modern elder law, and with good reason. Medicaid is something you have paid into, and it can keep you healthy and strong for years to come, but only if you receive the benefits that are your due. Unfortunately, there are times when Medicaid recipients are short-changed; a lawyer knowledgeable in elder law can help you to get your Medicaid benefits, ensuring your health for some time. The same is true of disability payments and other issues pertaining to your long-term care and solvency.

Who’s Looking Out for You?

In the event of serious incapacitation or disability, it is important for you to know that the person looking after you is someone who cares about you, or at the very least, someone who can competently look after you. Specifying who will be your legal guardian in the event of your incapacitation is an important matter that you shouldn’t leave to chance. Planning ahead for your own comfort and health is key to a long and happy life, after all.

Another matter to consider is who will look after your estate while you are incapacitated. Without a designated conservator, the court may appoint a conservator to look after your estate, which can potentially lead to some emotionally and financially devastating consequences.

You can spare yourself and your family the storm and stress of these uncertain times by working with an elder law lawyer to plan ahead for your health and safety as well as the care of your loved ones. While much of this can be done on your own, there are many minor details that, if left unattended to, can render all of your work to plan for your future moot. With the lawyers at Alice A. Salvo at your side, you need not fear that the courts or the IRS will undo your hard work.


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