Have you heard the term “Elder Law” and wondered what it means? Elder law and estate planning are not exactly the same thing, but in many cases the areas of law overlap. In elder law you look to preserve assets from nursing home costs and use transfer tactics to qualify for Medicaid.
Elder law may also include estate planning as it relates to health care, long term care insurance, and other veterans and military benefits. Wills, trusts, and both general durable Powers of Attorney and health care Powers of Attorney are all considered by attorneys when reviewing a client’s elder law and estate planning needs. Sometimes an Irrevocable Trust may have to be drafted that provides asset protection and allows a spouse to be eligible for Medicaid. If there is a disabled child or grandchild, then a Special Needs Trust may be necessary.
All of these things require advanced planning. This is particularly true for Medicaid planning because it is a needs based program and the government will “look back” for any assets transferred for less than fair market value in the last five years. If such transfers are found, the government may act as if you still own the asset and you may have too many assets to qualify.
Also, since many of these elder law and estate planning techniques require the signature of the person that we are trying to help, the person needs to be legally competent when plans are being made. Therefore, this planning should be done before any serious health conditions become apparent.
Simply put, you cannot wait too late to do elder law estate planning. The sooner you receive legal advice concerning elder law planning the better off you will be. It is too late to close the barn door once the horse is out of the barn.
Dustin joined the SBW&P team in 2010, coming to us from one of the oldest firms in Cincinnati. He earned his undergraduate degree from Bellarmine University, summa cum laude, and his law degree from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, where he graduated cum laude. Dustin’s law practice includes personal injury law, medical malpractice law, business law including corporations, LLCs and business planning, real estate law, probate law, estate planning, employment law, and family law.