5 Ways an Elder Law Attorney Can Help You Plan for Long-Term Care

Senior couple, discussing documents for a retirement plan with an attorney.The practice of elder law is a little different than most other legal niches. As opposed to being defined by the type of legal issues they handle, elder law attorneys are more often defined by the individuals they help – primarily older persons.

Elder law attorneys work with this population and their families or representatives to advocate and address legal issues related to elder care such as health and long-term care planning, caregiving, navigating government benefits, financial elder exploitation, estate planning, legal capacity counsel, retirement planning, aging in place, and the like.

An elder law attorney offers knowledge, understanding, and guidance when it comes to the ins and outs of long-term care planning. In an ever more costly and changing care environment, they can help evaluate options and develop strategies for paying for long-term care costs and examine and advise on interrelated issues and concerns.

Long-Term Care Planning Help

Here’s a closer look at 5 important ways working with a qualified elder law attorney can help with long-term care planning for yourself or an aging loved one.

1. Asset Protection. The cost of long-term is expensive – very expensive – especially here in Connecticut. According to seniorliving.org, in 2024 the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home in Connecticut is over $15,000 month, which the second highest in the country!

To help protect against long-term care costs exhausting all your assets and/or to avoid spousal impoverishment if you were to enter a nursing home, an elder law attorney can help you develop a plan to help preserve your wealth.  This may include using planning tools such as creating a trust or transferring assets that will enable you to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

It should be noted that when it comes to long-term care planning, the sooner you develop a long-term care strategy, the better the chance of receiving quality care while protecting your assets. The key is getting a head start and working with a qualified elder law attorney to have a comprehensive plan in place before long-term care is needed.

Long-Term Care Planning written on a clipboard.2. Understanding Medicaid. Let’s face it – Medicaid is confusing! The rules are constantly changing and there is a lot to know about eligibility requirements and applying for Medicaid in Connecticut.

Working with an elder law attorney is advantageous when it comes to applying for Medicaid because

(1) a qualified Connecticut elder law attorney is familiar with the eligibility criteria needed to qualify for Medicaid in Connecticut and can help develop a plan to structure finances in order to meet the strict Medicaid guidelines; and

(2) they can work with you to complete the complex Medicaid application process to ensure it is done both correctly and timely.

Keep in mind that there are companies out there (non-attorneys) that claim to be able to process your Medicaid application at a low cost.   Beware. This is a very risky proposition.

Unqualified and unlicensed non-attorneys who process Medicaid applications can cause great harm by putting Medicaid applicants at risk for denial of eligibility, severe tax liability, loss of spousal assets and may also have a conflict of interest.  Furthermore, they are not necessarily concerned with protecting your assets or life savings.

3. Preparing a Complete Estate Plan. While every adult should have an estate plan in place, it is especially crucial for older adults. In terms of long-term care planning, it is not only important to have a Will, and perhaps a trust, but it is also vital that your estate plan include both advance health care directives and a durable power of attorney (POA).

An advance health care directive outlines your specific health care preferences and empowers you to choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.  Similarly, having a power of attorney enables you to appoint a trusted agent to make financial decisions on your behalf while you are alive.

4. Securing Guardianship. If a loved one is no longer able to make decisions for themselves or becomes incapacitated, an elder law attorney can help initiate guardianship or conservator proceedings, if needed. (This process legally appoints someone to make financial, medical, and personal decisions for the person who has lost capacity.)

Senior couple reading a contract5. Navigating Nursing Home Contracts and Disputes. Admitting a loved into a nursing home or assisted living facility can be traumatic and confusing. Therefore, it is wise to not only carefully review and understand the admissions packet, but also to have an elder law attorney review the contract, as it can be an extra layer of protection. (You are not obligated to sign a nursing home agreement the day of admittance.)

In addition to reviewing the nursing home contract, a qualified elder law attorney can advise on a patient’s rights and obligations, examine potential housing and care concerns, and help resolve disputes (in court, if need be) with care providers. Elder law attorneys can also act as advocates, helping to prevent and remedy elder financial exploitation.

Protect Yourself with the Help of an Elder Law Attorney

Working with an elder law attorney is beneficial in protecting your interests and assets, and ensuring your wishes are carried out appropriately.  And while creating a long-term care plan in advance is the best strategy when it comes to protecting assets, a qualified elder law attorney can also recommend asset protection tools that can be utilized even if there wasn’t any advanced planning, and a crisis occurs.

The experienced elder law attorneys at Czepiga Daly Pope & Perri will explore options for you or your loved one’s unique circumstances, discuss strategies for protecting life savings, and help to enhance the quality of life of an aging loved one whether they are able to remain at home and age in place, or if they reside in a skilled nursing or assisted living facility.

We understand Connecticut’s laws and regulations, and can offer guidance and counsel on elder care, Medicaid, and long-term care planning matters.  If you would like to talk to us about your long-term care planning strategy, contact us at 860-236-7673. We would be happy to help.

Related Posts:

Assessing an Elder Law Attorney’s Credentials: What is a CELA?

Buyer Beware: Choose Your Medicaid Application Support Wisely

Paying to Care for Your Family May Not Impact Your Medicaid Eligibility

Don’t Let Your Parent’s Money Run Out: Key Ways to Protect Seniors’ Assets

4 Things You Should Know About Today’s Nursing Homes

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