When Should Seniors Consider Getting Legal Assistance?
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As you get older, life gets more complicated. And while aging brings entirely new problems and challenges, there’s one that many older adults don’t consider: legal problems.
It’s very common to face unexpected legal issues late in your life. From dealing with caregivers to creating end-of-life documents like wills and trusts to tackling health and insurance issues, the golden years of your life could leave you with confusing, frustrating legal woes.
But that’s exactly how an elder law attorney can help. Don’t wait until it’s too late and your legal problems are too big – knowing how an elder law attorney could benefit you can save you time and money.
Seniors Often Face Legal Issues
As you grow older, you’re supposed to enjoy your life and your free time. But unfortunately, seniors often quickly realize that problems can compound quickly later in life.
Many seniors find themselves facing serious, complicated legal issues. Perhaps you need to set up care for yourself, or maybe you’re facing a move out of your home and into a nursing home. Maybe you’ve found yourself the victim of a scam targeting seniors.
These issues are shocking – but they aren’t rare. Many people try to take advantage of seniors, and there are laws to protect you. You just need the right help for your specific situation.
The following are just a few of the very serious legal issues many seniors face:
- Advance directives, which tell others how to handle your affairs.
- Assigning power of attorney, in the event you begin losing your faculties.
- End-of-life legal documents, such as a will or DNR (do not resuscitate order).
- Guardianship or conservatorship, which appoints someone to act on your behalf.
- Fraud and abuse.
- Scammers for charity or home repair fraud.
These legal problems can enter your life suddenly and unexpectedly. And if you’re struggling to deal with them, you don’t want to make the mistake of trying to handle them on your own. Difficult legal issues require expert help.
How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help
An elder law attorney is the perfect solution for any senior’s legal woes.
Elder law attorneys specialize in working with older adults and their families. These specific attorneys can help you with any difficult, complicated legal decision you’re facing.
And they’re specially trained in working with aging adults. Elder law attorneys understand and will work with any physical or mental limitations you may have. As Care.com¹ explains, they can connect you with, and even work with on your behalf, additional resources like psychologists, social workers, and long-term care planners.
According to GetLegal.com², here are some of the legal issues an elder care attorney can help with:
- Health and Care Planning: Elder law attorneys can help establish healthcare power of attorney, offer guidance in finding a care facility, and manage your financial resources to cover your health expenses.
- Decision Making: If you can’t make decisions for yourself, an elder law attorney can help establish powers of attorney, conservatorships, or guardianships for you.
- Government Benefits: Elder law attorneys can offer legal guidance and protection as you navigate choices like Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare.
- Estate Management: An elder law attorney can manage any inheritance, trusts, wills, and other estate factors.
If you’re facing any of these legal issues, you can benefit greatly from having an elder law attorney. And if you’re preparing for the future, consider an attorney who can help you whenever you might need one.
How to Find a Quality Elder Law Attorney
Are you ready to enlist the help of an elder law attorney? Starting your search for the right attorney who can handle your unique issues and needs as soon as possible is the best idea.
Harry Margolis, elder law specialist and founder of the Margolis & Bloom law firm, tells Care.com³ that seniors and their families should start considering an elder law attorney when you’re thinking about long-term care. If you’re looking at government benefits, that’s also a good time to enlist an attorney’s help.
In order to find the best elder law attorney for your legal issues, follow these steps.
Ask These Questions
Before you agree to use any elder law attorney, you’ll want to figure out if they’re experienced in what you need. And asking questions during an initial consultation is the best way to find this out.
Make sure to ask any attorney you’re considering these questions:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What’s your experience with elder law?
- Do you have a specialty? Do you handle financial, estate, or healthcare concerns?
- How much of your practice is dedicated to elder care law?
- Will you be part of the entire legal process? Will you be drafting the documents and attending court?
- If I need assistance at home or can’t travel, do you make house calls?
These questions, along with an attorney’s answers, should give you a good idea of the quality of the legal team.
Ask About Cost
Attorney fees and costs are an important consideration. And it could make a big difference in your choice of attorney.
While most attorneys will offer free consultations, make sure to ask any elder law attorney what their fees are. How much do they charge per hour? Do they charge any fees for additional work or for court appearances? Is there a flat rate available for specific needs, like wills and DNR orders?
Most elder law attorneys will offer a range of different prices for different services. If one attorney doesn’t fit your budget, search for other attorneys who are equally qualified. They might offer different rates.
When you’re searching for attorneys, you’ll want to make sure to read reviews. You can easily search online for reviews of elder law attorneys in your area. And that way, you’ll be able to read many clients’ reviews all in one place.
This will help you get a sense of how qualified, effective, and helpful an attorney is. Previous clients will share details about their experiences, and you can use their information to narrow down your search. Armed with this information, you’ll be ready to compare different elder law attorneys and choose the right match for you.