Elder Law: Questions and Answer

What are the ways in which elder law varies from traditional legal practices?

Elder law is a specialized practice of estate planning. Elder law attorneys assist individuals and their families in preparing for retirement benefits, healthcare, long-term care, Medicaid and Medicare coverage, and home care and nursing home care. Elder Law attorneys also specialize in assisting with decision-making documents and beyond, for people who may have difficulty making such choices. We get to know our clients and their families so that we can provide them with a more holistic approach because we spend time learning about their needs and wants. They  don't just perform a service for you. They form a team that includes financial planners, accountants, insurance agents, and other specialists to create and implement a suitable strategy for each customer.

At what age should you contact an elder law attorney?

While there is no specific right or wrong age, it's generally advised that by the time you reach 60 years old, you should have started the planning process. The longer you wait to plan and manage your finances,the greater chance you run of losing money through poor investment decisions or unexpected health concerns. Another great way to plan for the future is by helping your kids start estate planning in their 30s, when they may have young children.

Is there a great deal of preparation that I will have to do?

They ensure that your estate and family are well taken care of now, so you don't have to worry about any issues later. We frequently ask the following questions: Do you receive benefits from the VA? Do you have a separate insurance policy? How long do you anticipate working for? When do you anticipate receiving your Social Security payment? Who will look after your pet when you're gone? Are you looking to set up a pet fund, or do you want to leave money behind for someone else to take care of your pet? If you possess firearms, would you like to leave them to a gun trust upon your death? The newest thing is having access to a person's online accounts if they become disabled or die. With the ever-changing landscape of law, it's difficult to keep up. Fortunately, we know all the questions you need to ask and can guide you through this process.

What about planning for a child that has a physical or mental disability?

If the youngster is receiving government money, we may wish to establish a special needs trust so they don't lose out on it, but the funds will be accessible to them. It's also crucial to think about who would be the best trustee for a kid with disabilities in the future.

How can I ensure my estate avoids probate?

Some people will set up a trust, some will name beneficiaries and some will choose not to do anything with planning details. Probate laws differ in each state and jurisdiction but an elder law attorney can help inform the client of the rules specific to their situation.

How can I avoid paying estate taxes?

The current U.S. estate tax exemption is $11.18 million per person, meaning that a married couple can exempt $22.36 million from their estate taxes altogether. This allows for a significant amount of money to be passed down without being subject to federal taxes. The state of Missouri does not have estate or inheritance taxes.

What should I do to safeguard my assets?

When it comes to Estate Planning, there are a lot of options. These will vary based on the state you live in, but some examples include giving your assets away or putting them in an irrevocable trust. You may buy long-term care insurance or take your chances and do nothing. In order to protect your assets, there are waiting periods that must be met. A will also helps dictate who you want in charge of distributing your assets according to your wishes. You may also want to create a second memorandum, in addition to the will, that designates more sentimental assets like the antique automobile.

What are your thoughts on end-of-life care?

They want what's best for you, so we help to set up your advance directives and medical power of attorney. They ask questions about life support and if you're willing to be an organ donor- all in order to provide the best possible care for you. They've also completed courses on capacity and undue influence. They know how to identify when someone isn't qualified to sign medical and legal paperwork.

Can you aid me with funeral preparations?

By planning your funeral and burial now, you are easing the burden on your loved ones by making it clear what your wishes are. You can decide whether you want to be buried or cremated, and if you have had more than one marriage, which spouse you want to be buried with. We will help guide so that all of your final arrangements are taken care of according to your wishes.

How can I appoint personal representatives?

We want to know more about the people you want to serve as your representatives. Are they responsible and trustworthy? Could their spouse get involved and do something wrong? If you appoint two people, will they be able to work together productively? We can help you determine whether you require someone else to handle your health decisions versus your financial choices. The bottom line with elder law is that if you pay for it, you get what you pay for. You can't attempt this sort of planning on your own.

Even if your loved one has dementia, can they sign legal documents?

Under what circumstances can my family member with dementia sign legal documents?  The severity of the dementia will affect how easy it is to sign, as will the capacity of your loved one when you attempt to have them sign. Although it may seem unimaginable, even people in the later stages of dementia can be legally allowed to sign binding documents. It's crucial to remember that the medical definition for capacity and the legal definition for capacity are two different things. Legally competent individuals with Alzheimer's Disease or another dementia may still sign documents. Although a doctor may have already written a statement of incapacity for the person, this does not mean that they are legally incapacitated. The capacity requirements for each legal document can vary. After consulting with you, your attorney should be aware of the legal requirements for capacity.

What are the documents I need for planning purposes?

It is critical for most people to have these papers. It's even more vital for those facing dementia. These are the papers you'll need:

  • A durable power of attorney for long-term care, which is customized to the needs of each client and contains long-term care planning provisions (generic forms seldom enough), must be prepared.
  • Also, a health care proxy (often referred to as Living Wills and Health Care Surrogate Designations) is an authorization that allows you to make medical treatment decisions for yourself.
  • A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that outlines your wishes for how your assets should be distributed after you die.
  • You'll need to draft a trust agreement.
What is the most significant danger to my financial stability?

Long term care is one of the biggest financial burdens people over 50 face, and those with dementia need even more care for extended periods of time. Most people would rather not think about or prepare for what comes after they need lifelong care. The fact is that most individuals will require long-term care and, unless they have adequate funds set aside, the expense may be prohibitive. There are a few ways, both legal and ethical, to protect your life savings for future use without giving away any assets or waiting out penalty periods.

How much do you charge?

Before you hire an attorney, you should inquire about how much he or she charges. Every lawyer charges differently. Some lawyers charge by the hour, while others demand a fixed price to complete a specific job. Some attorneys impose consultation fees; others do not.

It is unwise to anticipate a lawyer giving you a fee quote or even an estimate prior to having an initial meeting. You might be confident about what needs to be accomplished, and you may well be correct, but the lawyer has to go through an intake process with you first in order determine the right "prescription" and give an accurate quoted price. Make sure you understand exactly how your charge will be determined. It's quite common to have a formal contract that details the price and scope of the task, as well as the terms of payment.

How should I store my original legal papers?

Your original legal papers should be kept in a safe, fire-resistant, water-resistant location. Ensure that this is known to and accessible by your children or other trustworthy agent(s). Copies are frequently as good as genuine documents but some third-parties still demand originals. In order to keep your originals safe, buy a fire-resistant box and instruct your loved ones on how to access it.

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At St Louis Family Resources, we are a multi-service company that will focus on providing you with Fast, Friendly, and Flexible service.


Contact Us

St Louis Family Resources
167 Lamp & Lantern Village #107
Town & Country MO 63017

Terry Peterson
(314) 926-1980
[email protected]

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