Elder law is something that a lot of people are confronted with, but also something that not many people know much about. As we age, our needs, options, and abilities change. For seniors and elderly people, those changes can be the most dramatic. Elder law addresses the legal realities that arise because of these changes. Whether you are an elderly person, someone nearing retirement, or a family member worried about an elderly loved one, here are several tips you can keep in mind as you consider whether elder law is something you need to address.
Elder Law Tip 1. Elder law isn’t only for the elderly.
People naturally assume that elder law is only of interest to elderly people. This is not true. Younger people, and especially those with elderly family members, need to be aware of some basic elder law issues. For example, if you have an aging parent, do you know what you can do if you are worried that your parent is no longer capable of driving? Do you know if your parent will be able to pay for a nursing home? Will you be able to make decisions for your parent if he or she becomes incapacitated? Elder law addresses all of these issues.
Elder Law Tip 2. Planning is better than reacting.
Elder law is something that is heavily dependent on proper planning. Even though you can adequately address many elder law issues if you wait until after they happened to take action, it’s always better to have a plan in place.
For example, if you are an aging adult and are worried about the cost of long-term care, there are steps you can take now that will help you in the future. You can, for example, craft a Medicaid plan that will allow you to protect as many of your assets as possible so that you can later pass them on as inheritances.
Contrast this with people who wait too long to begin to address elder law issues. For people in this situation, using Medicaid might not be an option until they sell or “spend down” most of their assets.
Elder Law Tip 3. Elder law is a part of estate planning.
Estate planning is about taking steps now that will protect your property after you die. Because of this, estate plans naturally address many of the same issues that people with elder law concerns have. In other words, if you want to be adequately prepared for the future, creating an estate plan that addresses elder law issues is absolutely essential. It is also essential that you act now, while you are still capable, instead of waiting until it is too late.