Legal Issues that Should be Handled by an Elder Law Attorney

An elder law attorney provides services in many legal areas since the term “elder law” pertains to all matters that affect the aging population. Many older individuals may choose an elder law attorney with the assistance of a trusted family member who is their caretaker or power of attorney. Here are several important legal issues that can be properly handled by this type of lawyer:

Estate Planning

Estate planning is an important process that outlines how your belongings and financial assets will be distributed following your death. By completing the process, individuals can ensure that their wishes are fulfilled following death and that the family will not be forced to guess what you would have wanted or make unpleasant decisions. Furthermore, estate planning ensures that those assets do not become the property of the government and are not overly taxed.

For most people, one of the largest steps in estate planning is setting up a will and/or a trust. This legally binding agreement clearly states to whom your property and assets will be distributed following death. At the recommendation of their elder care attorney, some individuals may make inter vivos gifts to avoid tax penalties, which means the gift is given before their death.

Medical Directives

Documents within the category of medical directives include things like a health care proxy and living will. These documents outline the medical actions you want to be taken if you are ever unable to make those decisions for yourself or the person you appoint to make those decisions on your behalf when needed. For example, a person who is in a vegetative state is unable to make her own decisions. If she has the appropriate medical directives on file, her medical team will follow her previously documented instructions or those of the person she designated to make decisions for her.

Power of Attorney

Naming a power of attorney formally can give you the peace of mind of knowing that someone you’ve appointed will be guarding your financial assets and acting on your behalf if you ever become incapable of doing so yourself. Individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s, go into a coma, or experience another serious medical issue benefit from having this document in place.

The notion that a spouse or child can automatically assume this position is false. In fact, without a power of attorney in place, no one will be able to represent you until the court appoints a guardian or conservator. This can be a lengthy and costly process that can result in someone you would not have chosen being appointed.

Veterans Benefits

Many veterans of war, and their families, are eligible for unique benefits. There are requirements, such as having served on active duty for a minimum period and receiving a general or higher level of discharge from service. Several other factors that come into consideration include age, physical limitations, and injuries due to service. Spouses and children of veterans are eligible for health and financial benefits in many situations.