Attorneys focus on various different aspects of the law. Some specialties encompass an array of different but related services. This is true of estate planning. Some but not all estate planning attorneys also work in the sub-field of Elder Law as well. In this post we will examine the role of the Elder Care attorney.
What Elder Care Attorneys Do
Elder Law or Elder Care attorneys focus on legal issues that affect mostly seniors or the elderly. Some Elder Law attorneys may limit themselves to certain legal issues of the elderly, instead of working in all areas of Elder Law.
Legal issues of the elderly may include paying for long term nursing care, Medicaid or VA Benefits eligibility; nursing home rights; elder abuse; and guardianship proceedings, to name a few.
Addressing long-term nursing and assisted living care costs is a major challenge for seniors. Many are lulled into a false sense of security assuming that Medicare or health insurance will handle all of your health care needs including long term nursing care. It can be a rude awakening when you find out that neither Medicare nor health insurance will pay for long-term care.
This type of care is expensive. In 2012, the average annual charge for a private room in a nursing home exceeded $90,000 in the United States. A year in an assisted living community could cost you over $40,000 on average. Ohio averages are in that range.
Though Medicare won’t pay for long-term care, Medicaid will pay if you qualify. Because Medicaid is a need-based program, you have to stay within minimal asset and income limits to qualify. In some states like Ohio, Medicaid will pay benefits while living in your home rather than a facility. Getting you to a level of assets that you qualify for benefits in the quickest and least disruptive manner, and preserving assets for the welfare of your spouse, are goals that an Elder Law attorney can help resolve.
Another role of the Elder Law attorney can be helping preserve some of your own assets for your own care and comfort. It is often possible to get Medicaid eligible without completely spending down your assets to the $1500.00 Ohio resource allowance level. This money can be what makes your life more comfortable and enjoyable while living on Medicaid. For example, protected assets can be used to pay for a private room instead of sharing a room.
An Elder Care attorney who has a thorough understanding of the program rules can help you reach these and other goals.
Elder abuse is another issue Elder Care attorneys focus. Elder financial abuse is running rampant in the United States . Estimates with regard to losses are in the billions annually, but it is hard to measure the losses because the majority of cases go unreported. There are legal and practical steps you can take to limit your exposure to elder financial abuse, and to stop it once it is detected.
Physical abuse of elders is also a problem. This can take place in various ways and under various circumstances. Physical abuse of elders in nursing homes is not uncommon.
This is a brief look at the role of an Elder Care or Elder LAw attorney. If you would like to learn more, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.