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9 Signs That It’s Time to Hire an Elder Law Attorney

As we age, planning for the future and understanding complex legal issues becomes stressful. Here is where an elder law attorney can be a valuable asset.

These legal professionals specialize in helping seniors and their families with a wide range of legal matters, from estate planning to long-term care.

But how do you know when to hire an elder law attorney?

Here are nine signs to look out for.

1. You Need Help with Estate Planning

One of the most important reasons to hire an elder law attorney is for estate planning.

An estate plan ensures that your wishes are carried out and your assets are protected after you pass away. It typically includes documents like a will, trust, and power of attorney.

An elder law attorney can craft a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your unique needs and goals. They can also ensure that your plan is legally valid and up-to-date with current laws.

2. You’re Concerned About Potential Elder Abuse or Financial Exploitation

Unfortunately, elder abuse and financial exploitation are growing problems in our society. Seniors are often targeted due to their vulnerability and accumulated wealth.

Some warning signs of elder abuse include:

  • Unexplained injuries or bruises.
  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior.
  • Isolation from friends and family.
  • Unusual financial transactions or changes to legal documents.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may be a victim of elder abuse or financial exploitation, elder law attorneys can help. They assist with reporting the abuse, recovering stolen assets, and implementing safeguards to prevent future harm.

3. You Have Questions About Medicaid Eligibility and Planning

Medicaid is a government program that can help cover long-term care costs for seniors with certain eligibility requirements. However, approaching the complex rules and application process can be challenging. This situation is where Medicaid planning comes in.

Legal counsel can help you understand the eligibility criteria, protect your assets, and position yourself to qualify for coverage when the time comes. They can also assist with the application process and any appeals if needed.

4. You’re Facing Complex Legal Issues Related to Aging

As we age, we may face a variety of complex legal issues that require the expertise of an elder law attorney.

Some examples include:

  • Guardianship proceedings if you become incapacitated.
  • Probate matters after the death of a loved one.
  • Creating a special needs trust for a disabled family member.

These legal matters can be complicated and emotionally charged. Working with an experienced elder law attorney provides peace of mind and protects your rights and interests.

5. You Need to Plan for Potential Long-Term Care Needs

The costs of long-term care, such as nursing homes, assisted living, and home care, can be staggering. Without proper planning, these expenses can quickly deplete your life savings.

A firm specializing in elder law can explore your options and craft a plan to prepare for and afford long-term care.

This may involve strategies like purchasing long-term care insurance, setting up a Medicaid asset protection trust, or using Veterans benefits.

6. You Want to Establish Advance Directives

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to specify your healthcare wishes and appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

The three main types of advance directives are:

  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: Designates someone to make medical decisions when you cannot do so yourself.
  • Living Will: Specifies your preferences for end-of-life care, such as whether you want doctors to keep you on life support.
  • Advance Instruction for Mental Health Treatment: Outlines your preferences for mental health treatment if you become incapacitated.

Elder law attorneys know the different types of directives and draft personalized documents that reflect your unique wishes. Having these in place before a medical crisis can provide immense relief for you and your loved ones.

7. You’re Concerned a Loved One May Soon Become Incapacitated

If you know someone who is showing signs of Alzheimer’s, dementia, or another condition that may lead to incapacity, it’s important to plan ahead.

Your legal counsel will put the necessary documents and provisions in place before incapacitation occurs. These tools may include a durable power of attorney or establishing a guardianship or trust.

These steps make the process much smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.

8. You Need Help Understanding and Securing Veterans Benefits

Many veterans are entitled to various benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These can include disability compensation, pension, and Aid and Attendance benefits for those who require long-term care.

However, the eligibility rules and application processes can be complex and confusing. A VA-accredited elder law attorney helps you determine your eligibility, gathers the necessary documentation, and tackles the application process for you. They can also assist with appeals when the VA denies your application.

9. You Want the Advice of a Seasoned Legal Professional

Perhaps the most compelling reason to hire an elder law attorney is for their expertise, experience, and personalized counsel. Elder law is a specialized area that requires a deep understanding of the unique legal and financial challenges seniors and their families face.

When choosing an elder law attorney, look for someone who:

  • Holds years of experience handling elder abuse cases.
  • Understands the long-term care needs of seniors.
  • Has significant experience with elder law lawsuits in North Carolina.
  • It makes you feel comfortable and listened to.

Establishing a relationship with an elder law attorney before a crisis hits can provide immense peace of mind. These professionals can serve as a trusted advocate and guide you as you age gracefully.

Protect Your Future: Schedule Your Elder Law Consultation Today

If any of these nine signs resonate with you, it may be time to consult with an experienced North Carolina elder law attorney.

Cary Estate Planning helps you plan for the future and protects what matters most. We offer confidential consultations and personalized legal solutions tailored to your unique needs.

Don’t wait until a crisis hits – get started today by contacting us for your case evaluation.

Author Bio

Paul Yokabitus

Paul Yokabitus is the CEO and Managing Partner of Cary Estate Planning, a Cary, NC, estate planning law firm. With years of experience in estate and elder law, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including estate planning, guardianship, Medicaid planning, estate administration, and other cases.

Paul received his Juris Doctor from the Campbell University School of Law and is a North Carolina Bar Association member. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Best Attorney in Cary” in 2016 and 2017 by Cary News and Rising Star in 2020-2023 by Super Lawyers.

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