When you are healthy and young, it can be easy to put estate planning and long-term care to the side. However, as we age - or our parents age - careful planning becomes necessary. If you, your spouse or a parent has health issues, this type of planning may become vitally important.
An elder law attorney can provide you with advice and help you develop a plan. Elder law attorneys specialize in handle issues facing seniors as they age. This includes a wide range of legal matters such as estate planning, asset protection, Medicaid/MassHealth planning and similar issues.
If possible, plan for the future early
The best time to hire an elder law attorney is before you or your loved one has health issues. This can give you time to:
- Discuss your assets, health care plan and other issues with your loved ones
- Create a plan for long-term care to help pay for nursing care
- Develop an estate plan, which may include a will, a trust or other documents
- Determine who will make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated
- Take steps to protect your assets through the use of trusts, strategic gifting and other solutions
If you wait to plan for long-term care until it is needed, nursing care could cost you more. Medicaid covers the cost of long-term care for those with limited means and assets, but there is a "look-back" period for Medicaid. This means that if you transfer assets right before seeking Medicaid benefits, Medicaid could look back and include those transferred assets in their assessment.
Even if you do not work with an attorney early, an elder law attorney can help you resolve issues as they arise. Whether you need help creating a power of attorney so you can pay bills for a loved one or you need assistance protecting your assets while you go into a nursing home, an attorney can provide you with invaluable advice and support.