How Elder Law Attorneys Can Help Seniors and Their Loved Ones

Many aging Americans depend on family members or friends to help manage their financial, health, and other affairs during retirement and beyond. They often believe that their family members will be able to take care of any issues that arise. While consulting with loved ones about plans and wishes can be beneficial, relying solely on them can cause problems in the long run for both seniors and their families.

Instead, it is best to seek the advice of an elder law attorney when it comes to putting proper planning in place. The issues around retirement, wills, and estate planning are often complex. Working with a legal professional can help seniors navigate these details to ensure that decisions and plans are suited to their specific situation.

Having legal arrangements in place related to retirement benefits, assets, and to determine who will be responsible for the welfare of an aging loved one can also help to avoid family disputes, and ensure that assets are preserved as intended. And although we’d like to assume family members always have seniors’ best interests at heart, legally-binding arrangements also protect against abuse and financial exploitation.

But it isn’t just seniors that benefit from working with a legal professional. Elder law attorneys can also assist heirs and beneficiaries by ensuring that assets don’t fall into wrongful hands due to debts, divorces, or other extenuating circumstances. They can also help beneficiaries avoid the long and complicated probate process.

Elder law attorney expertise

Elder law attorneys have the expertise to help seniors and their loved ones navigate all of the legal issues impacting the elderly. They can help clients to better understand Medicare and Medicaid programs and laws, and assist clients and families with all of the legal aspects of planning, including drafting wills, estate plans, and trusts.

Below is a list of some of the services elder law attorneys provide:

  • Medicaid Eligibility, Applications, and Planning
  • Medicare Eligibility and Claims
  • Social security and disability claims and appeals
  • Long-term care planning
  • Financial planning for long-term care
  • Drafting wills and trusts
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Elder abuse case management
  • Patient rights
  • Nursing home issues and disputes
  • Establishing and managing Estates and Trusts
  • Tax advice and planning strategies
  • Probate services
  • Asset protection

… and more

Seniors tend to procrastinate planning due to the unpleasant associations of illness and death. Elder law attorneys can alleviate that discomfort by facilitating family conversations and shifting the focus to the positive benefits of planning and preparedness. Cost can also deter seniors from seeking legal advice and services, however, failing to plan can ultimately end up being far more expensive.

No matter the issue at hand, seniors and their loved ones will benefit from working with a legal professional. If you’d like to learn more about how elder law services can help you or an aging loved one, contact our firm today.

What You Need to Know About Ancillary Probate

If you own a home, a boat, or other property out of state, your heirs might need to go through another probate or court process to receive it. This is known as ancillary probate.

The laws of the state where the property is located will determine how it’s divided, should you not place it within your own trust agreement.  Some things to consider as you plan your estate include the potential difficulties of ancillary probate, such as extra work and legal and accounting fees.  

The Ancillary Probate Process

If you’ve filed a will for property in the state where you live, all probate procedures will start there. The probate court in your home state may need to accept or admit the will with your out-of-state property, if there aren’t any challenges, as a “foreign” will.  The out-of-state court should then also accept it or have its own independent process.

The ancillary probate process is often shorter than the one in the primary state, however, the executor or administrator of the primary last will and testament may need a lawyer in the second (or third) state to handle the procedure. The executor needs the same powers and responsibilities in each state for authority over the property.

Potential Shortcuts

Ancillary probate may be simplified, and sometimes, you can avoid it altogether. State laws differ, so it’s best to discuss with your own attorney to determine how they apply in the locations involved. For example, in the home state, the executor might need only to file letters of authorization and a copy of the will there to avoid having to be appointed executor in the second state. Among the alternatives, if it is a possibility, you could consider small estate proceedings if the property isn’t too valuable.  

Other options for avoiding ancillary probate may include:

  • funding the property into a trust agreement (whether or not a will already exists)
  • a transfer-on-death deed
  • adding a co-owner to the title or joint tenancy with the right of survivorship
  • selling or transferring the property before death

It can be tough to think about the future, especially when time is of the essence. Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone. If you need help on this issue or any other, don’t hesitate to contact us for advice and support.  

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