Elder law attorneys address the legal issues that arise as a consequence of the aging process. Elder law is a rather large umbrella and covers the areas that are most practical to the problems that seniors face. Here are the top five ways that these lawyers can assist the elderly:
– 1. Elder Financial Abuse. These are cases where financial predators use undue influence, manipulation and coercion to take property and money from elders who have diminished mental capacity. The perpetrators can by anybody, but are usually family members, caregivers or friends who have the most access to the elder and are least likely to be challenged by outsiders.
– 2. Nursing Home Abuse. Abuse or neglect of a nursing home patient generally results from inadequate staffing where there are too many patients and not enough nursing assistants. Sometimes, this is a conscious policy on the part of the nursing home owner who puts corporate profit ahead of patient care. Fortunately, there are many legal remedies available to stop these wrongful acts and to compensate the elderly victim for injuries suffered.
– 3. Conservatorships. When an elder is no longer able to make sound financial and healthcare decisions, and no other alternatives are available, then a request can be made for the court to establish a conservatorship and appoint someone to have the legal authority to make such decisions. This is an involved process but provides a solution to assist an elder who can no longer protect them self.
– 4. Estate Planning. “Living trusts”, powers of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions, and wills are the primary documents that constitute a person’s estate plan. These written instructions assist the elderly client both during their lifetime and afterwards. A proper estate plan can also avoid the need to establish a conservatorship if the elder becomes unable to make sound decisions. These documents grant all of the legal authority needed to carry on the elder’s affairs – without having to seek court involvement.
– 5. Medi-Cal Planning. This term applies to California residents and involves the process of obtaining Medi-Cal benefits to pay the sky-rocketing costs of long term care in a skilled nursing facility. Planning involves three stages: (1) Thorough analysis of the client’s financial status to develop a written strategy to obtain eligibility, reduce any share of cost, and avoid recovery claims; (2) Execution of the written strategy; and (3) Completion of the application process. Medi-Cal law is complicated and requires a lawyer experienced in the nuances of the various rules and regulations.
There are many other sub-fields that fall under the elder law umbrella. Each has its own peculiar application and importance as a piece of the elder law puzzle. This brief article has addressed only the top five ways that elder law attorneys can assist their clients.