Things an Attorney Can Do to Help Family Caregivers
If you’re a caregiver for your parent, a spouse, or a loved one, an attorney can help you and your family navigate the legal landscape of aging. For example, an Elder Law Attorney works primarily with individuals over the age of 65, taking a holistic approach to legal issues that people commonly face as they age, especially with health, housing, financial well-being, and long-term care.
According to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, elder law encompasses many fields of law, with elder law attorneys specializing in numerous areas, which can include:
- Administration and management of estates and trusts
- Elder abuse and fraud
- Estate planning, probate, trusts, wills, and other financial documents
- Long-term care placements in life care communities and nursing homes
- Medicare and social security appeals and claims
- Preservation and transfer of assets to avoid spousal impoverishment when a spouse enters a nursing home
Whether you’re trying to or figure out a current long-term care situation or plan for a possible future scenario, here are things an attorney can do to help family caregivers:
Advise what is best for your loved one.
Families are frequently split on the type of care they want for their parents. However, an elder law attorney can advise what is best without emotions influencing decisions.
Develop a plan for long-term care.
Because elder care attorneys’ have experience with nearly every type of financial and medical situation that beneficiaries and their families may encounter, he or she has a good idea of what may lie ahead, especially with diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia, or other chronic illnesses.
These attorneys focus on problems and issues that families face as parents or spouses age. They help to review what kind of care is required and whether the person is able to stay at home or may need long-term care in a nursing facility. If a long-term care facility is needed, they help caregivers take the next steps to protect their loved ones’ assets.
Protect assets from financial exploitation.
With that being said, it brings us to how the elder care attorneys do just that. They can help identify and alert family members to financial exploitation they might otherwise have missed. Protecting your loved one’s assets from dishonest predators is essential. There are too many times that a bad neighbor has the opportunity to come over and “help out” or an unscrupulous adult child to obtain access to financial accounts. An elder care law attorney can report potentially criminal activity or fraud and stop it or advise the caregivers.
Ensure that a durable power of attorney is in place.
If there is no durable power of attorney in place to allow an appointed person to make financial or decisions about your loved one if he or she becomes incapacitated, an elder law attorney can work with you and your loved one to prepare the documents. If the person is already disabled, an elder law attorney can commence guardianship proceedings to allow you or another guardian to handle your loved one’s financial and personal affairs.
Provide accurate answers.
An elder law attorney provides accurate answers to questions family caregivers have when a loved one who needs help. Elder law attorneys listen to the situation and give the advice that is best for the client. Not necessarily the information they want to hear, but what’s best for the given situation.
Not everyone professing to be an elder law attorney has the requisite experience and knowledge to advise aging clients. However, a certified elder law attorney, or CELA, must have practiced elder law for a certain number of hours each week for a specific amount of years and participating in a required number of hours of continuing education, according to the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF).