What is Elder Law?

Elder law is a fairly new and growing area of the law and focuses on the legal issues that come with aging. Some of the most common legal questions that arise are in regard to Medicaid nursing home planning, guardianships, and conservatorships.

Medicaid Nursing Home Planning

One of the most difficult decisions many families face is whether to put a loved one in a nursing home. Family members try to avoid this option because they would prefer to care for their loved one at home and are concerned with the high costs associated with nursing home care. Nursing homes may be the best option in some cases, however, as they provide a level of care that many families cannot provide. Mr. Nichols assists clients with obtaining affordable nursing home care and preserving as much of their estate as possible.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that pays for health care, including nursing home care, for low income individuals. Most people who need nursing home care will eventually need Medicaid. To ensure as much money is preserved as possible, it is critical to have a clear understanding of Medicaid’s complicated rules before a loved one begins receiving benefits. For example, if your loved one applies for Medicaid benefits while their assets exceed the eligibility limit, the application will be denied. Additionally, they may be advised to “spend-down” to a certain amount. This is where the wrong move can be very expensive. With the assistance of an elder law attorney, strategic moves can be made to protect as many resources for the family as legally possible. When there is a spouse still living at home, this can be the difference between financial security and financial devastation. Families trying to navigate the complicated

Medicaid process without the knowledge and experience of an elder law attorney can end up unnecessarily spending their every last dime to pay for nursing home bills.

An elder law attorney can assist clients with the lengthy and complex application process and can also help clients plan for Medicaid’s estate recovery program to prevent the loss of a home or estate.

Guardianships and Conservatorships

If a loved one is unable to make important financial or health care decisions due to a medical condition, such as being seriously ill or having Alzheimer’s disease, a friend, family member, or even a neighbor can hire an attorney to help. An attorney will petition the Probate Court to ensure the correct guardian and conservator is appointed to help their loved one (also referred to as a “ward”). A guardian makes important decisions regarding the health and maintenance, while a conservator manages the finances of their loved one. After the guardian and conservator have been appointed, an attorney will ensure they fulfill their legal obligations to the ward.

Please contact CMDA for assistance with any elder law matter, including nursing home planning, guardianships, and conservatorships.