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Elder Law Attorney in California

Catering for the Unique Legal Needs of Senior Citizens and Their Families

Life expectancy has reportedly doubled over the last century. In the United States, census data reveals that the life expectancy for the total population has increased by almost ten years, from 69.7 years in 1960 to 79.4 years in 2015, and it is projected that it will continue to increase from 2016 to 2060.

With Americans living longer, the increased need for legal services catering to the unique needs of senior citizens led to the creation of a relatively new practice area – Elder Law. But what exactly is different about Elder Law, and why should you work with an Elder Law attorney? The team at the Sheela Stark Law Group, APC, discusses the answers to these questions and explains how an Elder Law attorney can make a difference in the life of an aging loved one.

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

Rather than focusing on a specific case type, Elder Law is a client-focused, specialty practice area that caters to the legal needs of senior citizens and their families. An Elder Law attorney’s main goal is to help seniors navigate the legal and financial challenges associated with aging, such as estate planning, long-term care planning, conservatorship, and special needs trusts.

Elder Law attorneys can also help seniors and their families handle other issues such as elder abuse, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid planning. An Elder Law attorney is also well-versed in retirement planning, pensions, and other financial matters. The goal of an Elder Law attorney is to serve as a legal guide and ally, helping protect the rights and improve the lives of older citizens and their families.

Can Elder Law Attorneys Help With Estate Planning?

Estate planning is one of many areas an elder law attorney is proficient in and can really assist seniors and their families with their estate planning goals. An elder law attorney can guide clients through all aspects of estate planning – from the basic steps of creating a will and an advanced healthcare directive to creating trusts and planning for long-term care.

Even if a senior citizen has a modest estate without a lot of assets, estate planning is an important step to help protect what they have, ensure they will have the funds necessary to receive adequate care in case of incapacitation, and have a way of recording their wishes for what should happen after they pass away. Without any estate plans, these decisions are left up to their family, and their estate often gets distributed in accordance with state probate laws rather than their personal preferences. An elder law lawyer is capable of creating estate plans customized to the needs of their senior clients and their families.

What Can an Elder Law Lawyer Do to Help Me Become a Conservator for a Loved One?

If you have a loved one who is struggling with the effects of aging or has been diagnosed with a debilitating disease such as Alzheimer’s, you may be considering petitioning the court to be appointed as your loved one’s conservator in order to have the authority to handle all their affairs. Being a conservator is a sizable responsibility, and it may be worth discussing it with an elder law attorney in order to understand whether this is truly the right choice for you and your loved one.

Your attorney can explain your options and help prepare the necessary paperwork and supporting documents to submit to the court. Since judges are mostly hesitant to appoint someone as a conservator to another person unless the proposed conservator can prove that doing so is really in the best interest of the conservatee, building a strong case is key for a successful petition. An elder law attorney can assist you with the process of filing for a conservatorship successfully.

What if I Need Help With Medicaid Planning or Nursing Care?

In California, the median cost of a semi-private room in a long-term care facility such as a nursing home is just under $8,000.00 a month and can be upwards of $11,000.00 a month in some areas. Many families find themselves overwhelmed and unsure of what to do once they realize their loved one will need to go to a nursing home.

What they may not realize is that an elder law attorney can also assist them with helping them plan for long-term care. Ideally, clients and their families should consult with an elder law attorney long before a healthcare crisis arises. The attorney can analyze the client’s financial situation and make suggestions to help them afford the cost of long-term care without depleting their estate assets.

However, it is very common for families to reach out to an elder law attorney while they are right in the eye of the storm and need to find a solution for their loved one’s long-term care needs. An attorney can help them navigate Medicaid benefits and apply for assistance while giving them sound advice on ways they can protect their loved one’s assets. Whether you want to avoid a future financial crisis or need a solution to overcome a current crisis regarding your loved one needing to go to a nursing home, it is best to consult an elder law attorney to learn your options as soon as possible.

Can an Elder Law Attorney Help Me Find a Nursing Home for My Family Member?

Another service an elder law attorney can offer is helping families find and place their loved ones in a nursing home. For many, it may come as a surprise that an attorney would assist them with the process of finding a suitable home for their elderly family member, but an attorney can not only suggest adequate nursing facilities but also assist with all other aspects of securing long-term care for their family member.

For example, the attorney can assist in researching facilities in the area and guide families through the various types of care available in each facility. They can also review the policies and procedures of a particular facility to ensure that it is an appropriate choice for their loved one. Additionally, an elder law attorney can provide the family with information on financial assistance options for the nursing home, such as Medi-Cal or Medicare, and help them put together the necessary documentation for applying for assistance.

Because the cost of nursing homes is high, an elder law attorney can provide guidance on how to cover these costs by using their estate planning knowledge to help the family set up a trust or make use of other estate planning tools. In addition, an elder law attorney can provide advice on how to protect the elderly person’s assets while they are in the nursing home.

What Can an Elder Law Attorney Do to Help if I Suspect My Loved One Is Being Abused?

Unfortunately, not every person treats senior citizens with the respect they deserve, making elder abuse an all too common occurrence in California and across the country. Abuse can occur in a variety of ways, most often through violence, neglect, psychological abuse, or financial elder abuse. Abusers can be nursing home employees, family members, caretakers, and other people the senior citizen typically trusts.

If you believe your loved one is a victim of elder abuse, it is important to speak to your local law enforcement authorities, then reach out to the attorneys at the Sheela Stark Law Group, APC, for legal representation for your case. Our attorneys can assist you with the steps needed to investigate the case, identify the party who may be at fault for the abuse, and take steps to protect your loved one and stop the abuse. We may also be able to help you take action against the party responsible for the abuse and seek compensation on behalf of your loved one.

If you are looking for an experienced elder law attorney for your loved one in Southern California, have questions, or need legal help, contact the Sheela Stark Law Group, APC, by calling their law office at 909-675-1545 for a free consultation to discuss your case.