At some point in your life, you will likely need to rely on an elder law attorney for advice and/or guidance. As the nation’s population of older individuals continues to grow at a heretofore unprecedented pace, legal issues that impact the elderly have taken on heightened importance. While it is always best to consult directly with an elder law attorney with specific questions you may have, the Nashua elder law attorneys at DeBruyckere Law have provided the answers to five of the most common elder law questions.
- Elder law is a unique area of the law. As the elderly population began to grow several decades ago, it started to become clear that the legal issues that impact them needed to be addressed. Consequently, the relatively new area of the law known as “elder law” began to evolve. An elder law lawyer, therefore, is a lawyer who has chosen to focus much, or all, of his/her practice on legal issues that impact the elderly and those who care for them. Unlike other areas of specialty, however, an elder law lawyer does not focus on learning everything there is to know about a single area of the law. Instead, an elder law lawyer is more concerned with how the elderly are impacted by various legal issues and problems.
- The elderly face unique legal issues. The elderly face many of the same legal issues as do people still in their working years; however, there are some legal issues that are unique to the elderly or that impact the elderly differently, including:
- Caregiver support and legal guidance
- Elder abuse and neglect
- Eligibility for and/or denial of benefits (SSDI, VA, Medicare etc.)
- Discrimination in housing and other areas
- Estate planning
- Medicaid planning should probably be part of your estate plan. As you age, your likelihood of eventually needing to spend time in a long-term care (LTC) facility increases dramatically. If you do end up in a LTC facility, the cost of that care could wipe out your retirement nest egg rapidly unless you planned ahead. One way to plan ahead it to include Medicaid planning in your estate plan. Medicaid planning aims to protect your assets while setting you up to be eligible for Medicaid if you need it to help cover the cost of LTC in the future.
- A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease should prompt legal steps. Unfortunately, we have yet to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease nor a way to stop the memory loss and dementia that eventually occur with Alzheimer’s. As such, it is critical that an individual who has recently been diagnosed with the disease take the time to update important legal documents such as a Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents. It is also wise to plan for the eventual incapacity that is part of Alzheimer’s. Decide who will make medical decisions for you and execute an advance directive to that effect. A voluntary guardianship is also something that should be considered. Because an Alzheimer’s sufferer will eventually reach a point at which the mental capacity to execute legal documents no longer exists, it is important to update and/or create anything that might be needed in the future now.
- An advance directive allows you to make critical decisions now while you still can. Most states recognize two types of advance directives. The first is usually referred to as a “Healthcare Power of Attorney” or something similar and allows you to appoint an Agent who will make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. The second is what most people know as a living will. This type of advance directive lets you accept or reject certain end of life medical treatments in advance, such as keeping you alive through the use of artificial nutrients or giving you pain medication.
Contact Nashua Elder Law Attorneys
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact the Nashua elder law attorneys at DeBruyckere Law Offices by calling our New Hampshire office at (603) 894-4141 or our Massachusetts office (978) 969-0331 to learn more or visit our website at http://dadlawoffices.com .
Elder law has grown to the point where there is now a national organization (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys NAELA) that provides both training and certification in the area of elder law.
Over 5 million people are currently living with Alzheimer’s in the U.S. and one in three seniors with die with the disease.
Caregivers face a variety of emotional, financial, and legal challenges. An elder law attorney can help you identify potential legal issues and take the necessary legal steps to resolve those issues.