If you’ve ever gone on Google and searched for “elder law attorney near me,” then you know how difficult it is to weed through the dozens of results and find a lawyer with the specific experience and skill you need.
We know it can be confusing to navigate the challenges and find answers to the questions that come up as we get older and possibly need to look at long term care options for the future. Even more so, we know how vital it is to have an elder law attorney to help with things like living wills and advance directives, powers of attorney, Medicaid eligibility, and more. To provide a basic overview on these, our Ohio legal team at Jarvis Law Office, P.C., has created a short guide to some of the most frequently asked questions, which we hope will help you make a more informed decision.
What Is Elder Law? How Is It Different from Estate Planning?
Elder law, also called elder care law, focuses on the goals of each individual and the legal, financial, and medical issues that older adults currently face or may face in the future. Elder law helps senior citizens and younger individuals with catastrophic diagnoses or disabilities protect their home, life savings, and other assets at retirement, so that they can retain their dignity and gain peace of mind. Elder law planning also outlines the financial tools that will be used if long-term care is necessary.
Elder law includes implementing a legal plan that incorporates the couple’s or individual’s wishes and outlines how family members or other named representatives will manage the senior’s assets and make medical choices should the senior become incapacitated and be unable to do so themselves.
For married clients, elder care planning ensures that the well or caregiver spouse has enough income and savings to last the remainder of their life, too. The couple’s plan should also include how to not have the caregiver spouse endanger their own health when providing care for their loved one.
Estate planning addresses financial planning for people of any age. An estate plan directs assets when a person dies, so that all or the majority of their estate goes to their beneficiaries, not to the government. However, an estate plan does not incorporate asset protection from impending long term care needs and often does not adequately address issues of disability. For parents of minor children, an estate plan names a guardian in the event of the parents’ deaths. The most common tools of estate planning are wills, trusts, and health directives. Elder law attorneys use all of these tools and many additional tools to add protections estate plans do not usually include.
Your elder care attorney will advise you on any of these tools that are relevant to you.
What Are Some Options for Long-Term Care Planning in Ohio?
An elder law attorney can help you with handling your current and future needs. No one-size-fits-all approach works in every situation.
Your elder law attorney should take many things into account when assembling your plan:
- your goals – in retirement and if there is a need for long term care,
- your values,
- your family system and family dynamics,
- your assets (home, investments, retirement, jewelry, etc.)
- what and whom you would like to protect, and
- your wants and needs when it comes to care at each stage of aging.
While some older adults might be perfectly fine with family members assisting them with minor tasks, others might need or prefer the help of a professional caregiver in their home or even a long-term care center in order to carry out activities of daily living.
One option, then, is for the older adult to stay in their own home and get in-home care if needed. Another possibility would be to relocate to an assisted living facility. With both of these choices, you would adjust the caretaking to suit the needs of the older individual.
Another alternative lies in moving to a long-term skilled nursing facility or nursing home. The benefits here include 24/7 access to support and specialized care.
The cost of these options can be more significant than most Ohio seniors can comfortably afford. There are programs that can subsidize the cost of care such as veterans benefits, Medicaid for the Aged and Disabled, along with individualized legal and financial plans that you can put in place. Read on to learn more!
How Will I Pay for Long-Term Care?
It’s important to know that you’re not alone when it comes to figuring out how to pay for elder care. The right elder care lawyer can help you put a comprehensive plan in place, apply for benefits, and assist with financial planning.
As you might expect, it’s best to start early. By drafting a plan now about how you will pay for long-term care (LTC), you’ll avoid much of the stress once you or your family member needs the care. Most people think that the only solution is to purchase long-term care insurance, but that is not the case! Long-term care insurance can actually be limited in its coverage leaving many people with coverage that falls short. There are generally options that will provide you with better coverage, more savings, and at a lower overall cost to you!
Other governmental programs can help as well, but they’re often confusing and difficult to apply for. An elder law attorney can help you plan ahead and check your eligibility for any programs that could help with the cost of long-term care, including Medicaid eligibility.
How Does Conservatorship or Power of Attorney Work?
While it’s uncomfortable to broach the subject of incapacitation, it’s better to have a plan in place than none at all.
If you have heard about Britney Spears’ experience with her Conservatorship (in Ohio, also referred to as a Guardianship), you know that they can be complicated, messy, expensive and nearly impossible to undo. There are better ways to help a loved one address incapacity in the future that don’t require court involvement and oversight, or burden you with annual costs for the remainder of the person’s life.
The right elder care attorney will talk with you or your loved one about designating someone to make financial or medical decisions when needed, whether as a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, or a successor trustee. Whenever possible, we work to avoid having to get a conservatorship/guardianship, but there are instances when it can’t be avoided.
To know which option is best for you and your family, it is best to talk to a trusted elder law attorney. Your attorney can help you choose a decision-maker that’s right for you; someone you feel confident in making future decisions based on your wishes.
How Do I Find an Elder Law Attorney for Me in Ohio?
As you can see, many factors go into finding the right elder care lawyer. While it’s easy to Google “elder law attorney near me,” it’s a lot more challenging to find the perfect lawyer for your specific needs.
To speak with a knowledgeable elder law attorney about your future or a loved one’s situation, contact us today to see if you qualify for a free or no-cost consultation. We can video-chat with you or meet at one of our office locations: Lancaster (740) 653-3450, Dublin (614) 495-4185, or St. Clairsville (740) 699-2193.
We also provide in-person workshops and live webinars each month for free as a service to the great people of Ohio. Join us as we discuss topics of interest to you.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.