An elder law attorney is a critical resource as you manage important decisions for yourself or a loved one of older age. An experienced Palm Beach County elder law attorney understands the serious financial, medical, and personal issues that people face as they age and can advise on Medicaid planning and estate planning and techniques to meet your goals and resolve any issues you are facing.
What Is Elder Law?
Elder law attorneys focus on the broad spectrum of legal issues faced by the elderly. An elder law attorney will provide advice on a variety of client issues, including choosing a nursing home, paying for long-term care, maintaining control of assets, disability planning, and estate planning.
What Can A Palm Beach County Elder Law Attorney Assist Me With?
An elder law should advise you on any legal area or concern commonly confronted by aging individuals. Common areas of expertise for a Palm Beach County elder law attorney are discussed below.
Medicaid is a program administered by federal and state governments to provide certain vulnerable individuals health insurance. Individuals aged 65 or older are eligible for Medicaid in Florida if their annual household income is below a certain threshold.
Medicare eligibility is complicated. It's important to plan strategically to maximize your access to Medicaid benefits while also retaining as many of your assets as possible. Medicaid planning is particularly important if you or your loved one will require long-term care. Long-term care is very expensive and only covered by Medicaid insurance in certain situations.
A Palm Beach County elder law attorney will work with you to maximize your eligibility for Medicaid while making smart decisions about your existing assets.
A traditional estate planning attorney prepares a client's will and may prepare future-looking documents like a medical advanced directive or power of attorney. The bulk of their work, however, is focused on ensuring assets are distributed according to their client's wishes after death.
Elder law lawyers focus on the aspects of estate planning that are unique and sensitive for aging clients, like a medical advanced directive and power of attorney. These documents are more likely to have an immediate impact on an aging client's life. An elder law attorney also understands that estate planning, including disposal of assets, should go hand in hand with Medicaid planning for aging clients.
Probate and Guardianship
Probate is the legal process required to prove the validity of a will and the fulfillment of a deceased's documented wishes for their assets. Florida has a complex set of rules that governs probate requirements. An elder law attorney will structure your estate to make probate as streamlined as possible and can act as your personal representative after your death.
Guardianship occurs when decision-making for an individual is involuntarily designated to another party because they are deemed incapable of making decisions for themselves. It is often to avoid guardianship by working with an elder law attorney to prepare a clear power of attorney, which allows the individual to designate the decision-maker of their choosing. An elder law attorney will work with you to determine if seeking guardianship would be beneficial to a loved one — for example, if the person making decisions on behalf of the elder does not have their best interests in mind.
Do All Palm Beach County Elder Law Attorneys Help with Medicaid Planning?
No. While many law firms in Florida advertise Medicaid planning services, few are experts in the field. Medicaid is a complicated program with both state and federal requirements. A true Medicaid planning attorney must monitor changes in both state and federal laws and regulations and be attuned to the strategic decisions required when planning for Medicaid eligibility. Be sure to ask probing questions to determine if a lawyer is truly experienced in Medicaid planning.
When Should I Start Working With A Palm Beach County Elder Law Attorney?
It is best to engage an elder law attorney before you require Medicaid, an advanced directive, power of attorney, and before you are facing complicated medical issues. While there is no single age that makes sense for each individual, consider scheduling a consultation with an elder law attorney by the age of 65. Contact a Palm Beach County elder law attorney before age begins to affect your daily life.
Finding The Best Palm Beach County Elder Law Attorney For You
It is important to find an elder law lawyer who understands the unique issues you or your aging loved one are facing. Because of the complicated Medicaid eligibility and probate laws in Florida, it is important to find an attorney focused on elder law rather than a general estate planning attorney. A skilled Palm Beach County elder law attorney will help you or your loved one prepare the legal documentation that ensures they have the health insurance they need, their estate is in order, and that they have made critical decisions about the end of their life.
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