Each person has different issues, and a situation that is unique to him or her. Our Elder Law legal services for the elderly and disabled include creating appropriate legal strategies, advising on actions to be taken, and preparing documents to be executed. These include:
Medicare and Medicaid Planning
If you need long-term care, the cost is ruinous if you pay out-of-pocket. There are steps you can take to protect your assets and income, maintain your lifestyle, and still have access to high quality health care. This is a core function of our firm, because these strategies are both powerful and effective.
Trusts are the workhorses of Elder Law planning. A trust is an entity – a “person” – that is legally permitted to hold and own assets and earn income, and it is a private document. A trust is administered by a Trustee, and it also has Beneficiaries who may or may not be Trustees. The Trustees are usually the Grantor’s children, relatives, or close friends, who can distribute assets which may then be used for the benefit of the Grantor.
There are different kinds of trusts, and the type that would be useful for you with regard to Elder Law planning or managing your health care, depends on your situation.
There are two key “Advance Directives” that everyone should have, especially the elderly and disabled. These are the Power of Attorney and the Health Care Proxy. A Power of Attorney gives a person or persons who you appoint, the power to take actions in your best interest regarding your money and property. A Health Care Proxy gives one person, your “health care agent,” the power to act on your behalf with regard to your health care, when you are unable to express your own wishes.
A Will gives instruction as to how you want to distribute your property once you pass away, and it has other functions as well. A Will becomes a public document, and heirs and potential heirs can act to contest it. The process of reading, interpreting and executing a Will is called “probate.”
Wills and trusts can work together to create an effective estate plan.
Estate planning works hand in hand with Elder Law planning. When you focus on the critical issue of planning and paying for health care, especially long-term care, your estate plan will inevitably benefit. Money and other assets that would have been depleted remain available for your spouse and heirs.
When you pass on, assets that are held in your name cannot be distributed to beneficiaries or heirs without a court proceeding. If you have a Will, that process is called probate. If you don’t have a Will, your estate will be distributed to your legal heirs in a process called administration. Trusts and beneficiary designations avoid the need for court involvement in your estate. If an estate proceeding is required, Patricia Jo Stone, P.C. can help.
Real Estate Transactions
In many cases, your most valuable asset is your home. And in some cases, you may own a second home. These assets need to be protected as part of the Medicaid planning process. Accordingly, our services include advising you on sales and transfers of real estate, and of co-op apartments.
Financial and Tax Planning
Elder Law planning often involves the sale or transfer of your assets, in order to gain eligibility for Medicaid benefits. Such transactions may have tax consequences, which should be evaluated before any action is taken. Our services include careful analysis and guidance regarding tax issues.
Caregiver Agreements used in Elder Law situations are specialized contracts that permit the disabled or elderly person to receive assistance and pay for it with his or her assets, while facilitating access to Medicaid.
When an individual loses mental capacity and is unable to manage his or her affairs, or make decisions about medical care — and has failed to execute advance directives (Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy) — it may become necessary for a family member or friend to petition the court for the appointment of a guardian.
Call now to schedule a FREE consultation!