Most of us live our lives consumed with the demands of today, and with little thought for tomorrow. That’s a natural human response, of course, but it does little to prepare us for many of the new challenges that await all of us as we get older. Seniors have unique needs that must be properly addressed to ensure their wellbeing, and many of those needs are best addressed as early as possible. That’s where elder law comes into play. Elder law is an area of legal practice that targets the unique individual needs that seniors have to cope with – everything from financing nursing home care to dealing with benefit issues.
But how are you to know when you need these types of services? That can be a tough call for anyone to make, especially in a country where the average citizen would prefer to avoid the legal process altogether whenever possible. The problem is that senior issues don’t just go away on their own, and dealing with the legal complexities that surround these issues is often beyond the average person’s ability. Many need help navigating complex issues like Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, and end-of-life concerns. For example, here are five clear signs that you might need a Michigan elder law attorney:
You’re worried that your nursing home costs will impoverish your family.
This is a common concern. No senior wants to be a burden – either to his or her spouse, or to other family members. The problem is that nursing home costs are high and climbing with each passing year. Even now, those costs amount to hundreds of dollars each day. Few seniors in Michigan have the resources needed to pay for long-term care at those rates. That leaves many with the option of depleting their savings entirely, relying on family to help with the costs, or turning to Medicaid for help.
An experienced elder law attorney can help you to create a plan that will ensure that your nursing home costs are covered when you need them. Moreover, that attorney can help you accomplish that goal while protecting many of your assets so that you still have an opportunity to leave behind a worthwhile legacy when your life ends.
You have questions about benefits you might be eligible to receive.
Almost everyone is entitled to some sort of government benefits in the senior years. The problem many seniors face, however, is the challenge of determining which benefits they are entitled to and how to access them. An elder law attorney can assist you as you try to understand how Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, disability, veterans’ assistance, and other programs apply to your individual circumstances.
You’re wondering how to qualify for Medicaid.
Few things are more confusing for the average senior than trying to navigate the Medicaid process. Many aren’t even aware that the program can help them with long-term nursing home care, since Medicaid is primarily known for its role in assisting low-income families. Originally, that was its primary emphasis. Today, however, the program does so much more than that. In fact, Medicaid now sits as the largest single nursing home payment provider.
Of course, to get those benefits you have to qualify – and that means meeting exacting eligibility standards for income and assets. Those eligibility limits are low enough that they basically require you to have almost no assets in your own name before you can receive Medicaid’s help. The good news is that there are ways to plan your estate to ensure that you avoid being completely impoverished, but still manage to qualify for the assistance you need. Keep in mind, however, that this planning needs to occur as early as possible to avoid many of the roadblocks currently in place to prevent you from keeping anything but a negligible amount of wealth while you’re receiving Medicaid
You’re worried about being assigned a guardian by the court.
If you’re concerned about how your interests will be managed in the event that something happens to leave you incapacitated, you should be. Tragedy can strike anyone at any time, and we all owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to ensure that we’ve taken the necessary steps to plan for such an occurrence. To do that, you should have the right estate planning tools in place, including power of attorney documents covering both financial and health care decision-making.
Without those important tools, your incapacitation for any reason could leave your affairs being assigned to an agent chosen by a court rather than someone you’ve personally selected. If you want to ensure that there is no interruption in your loved one’s finances, and no confusion about your medical care during any period of incapacitation, you must have these critical powers of attorneys prepared in advance of any accident or illness.
You’re confused about how your retirement will impact your estate planning.
Often times, people have concerns about how things like IRAs, pensions, survivor benefits, and various public and private retirement plans might impact their estate, Medicaid eligibility, and overall asset management. The laws governing all of these issues can be very complex, but an experienced elder law attorney can help you to make sense of how everything factors into your estate planning strategy.
Obviously, those are not the only reasons to consult with an elder law expert. You may also benefit from an attorney’s advice if you’ve been named to act as someone’s agent during a period of incapacity, or simply need help applying for various benefits programs. A lawyer with experience in this field of law can help to simplify these complex issues and ensure that your interests are always protected.
At Biddinger, Bitzer & Estelle, PLLC, we understand how complicated many of these issues can be, and work with every client to ensure that they get the assistance they need. If you need the assistance of a Michigan elder law attorney or have been wondering whether a lawyer can help you with your elder law concerns, contact us online today or give us a call at (989) 872-5601.