WHAT IS ELDER LAW? An array of legal services to help seniors to plan for their golden years and to protect their assets and their families. Seniors face unique challenges and benefit from legal services tailored to them.
Elder law attorneys provide many different services including: basic estate planning, long term care advance planning , crisis intervention services related to nursing home qualification for those who need nursing home care right away but have no good plan for payment, guardianship, exploitation and for those who need nursing home care right away but have no good plan to pay. Even with basic estate planning, Elder Law attorneys always have an eye towards protecting your assets if you ever need long term care or nursing home care. Another side is trying to help people who need medicaid nursing home care right away to get qualified as soon as possible while trying to save as many assets as possible. We’ll look at your options for financing long term care, including strategies for qualifying for nursing home medicaid. We’ll try to find a way to help you get the care you need without spending down all of your assets. We also handle guardianships and guardianship alternatives for seniors who need help managing their affairs or who have been abused or exploited.
IS YOUR FAMILY IN A NURSING HOME PAYMENT CRISIS? Many seniors sell their homes and “spend down” their estates to pay for long term nursing home care. Don’t let this happen to you! You have options under Texas law to protect your assets and still get long term care. Were you or a loved one sent to a nursing home with no plan to pay? Is it time for nursing home care, but you can’t afford it without selling your home? We can help!
PLAN AHEAD TO AVOID A CRISIS While we can help in a crisis, we can usually help a lot more if you plan before a crisis strikes. Advance planning is key to save the most!
CALL US AT 956-425-2000 TO SEE IF WE CAN HELP YOU WITH:
- MEDICAID ESTATE RECOVERY PROGRAM (MERP)
- NURSING HOME MEDICAID QUALIFICATION
- AVOIDING THE MEDICAID “SPEND DOWN”
- PLANNING IN ADVANCE FOR LONG TERM CARE AND MEDICAID
HOW WE CAN HELP:
- Medicaid Qualification Strategies (When You Need Help Right Away)
- Long Term Care Planning
- Medicaid Planning
- Basic Estate Planning
- Lady Bird Deeds/Transfer on Death Deeds
- Miller Trusts (Qualified Income Trusts)
- Planning to Avoid Spousal Impoverishment
- Special Needs Trusts
- Wills and Powers of Attorney for Medicaid Planning
- Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP)
- Guardianship and Guardianship Alternatives
- Beneficiary Designations or Account Agreements
RESOURCE CENTER FOR SENIORS AND THEIR FAMILIES – We strive to be a resource for seniors and their families. We strive to connect seniors to other valuable services, both legal and non legal, such as geriatric care coordinators, professional guardians and other fiduciaries, financial planners and other highly specialized attorneys. We pride ourselves on being resources for seniors and having relationships with other professionals who can help seniors and their families make the most of their lives and assets.
—- READ MORE BELOW ABOUT ELDER LAW AND THE CHALLENGES FACING SENIORS TODAY —-
ESTATE PLANNING FOR SENIORS – HOW CAN AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY HELP YOU? The Elder Law Advantage is the specialized knowledge of elder law attorneys who can help you determine when typical estate planning is right and when you will benefit from using more specialized elder law options. For all seniors, a discussion of long term care, your family and your future plans should be at the center of any estate planning conversation. You can save your loved ones money, headaches and heartaches by putting a discussion of long term care at the center of your estate plan and making decisions in that light. You can take steps to preserve your independence and assets for as long as possible. We know how to make the right plans for seniors and their families to preserve assets and independence. Planning in advance will ensure you can take full advantage of the opportunities available to you. To learn more, refer to the sections on Long Term Care Planning, Medicaid and Nursing Home Care, the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP), Guardianship and Special Needs Planning
CHALLENGES FACING AGING AMERICAN AND THEIR FAMILIES – LONG TERM CARE IN AMERICA- Most American seniors will need some type of long term care assistance in their lifetime. Long term care begins when a person is no longer able to manage all the activities in their daily lives without the assistance of others. Long term care needs can range from simple assistance with tasks like cooking and cleaning to inpatient nursing home care. FINANCING LONG TERM CARE IN AMERICA – This care can be very expensive, especially nursing home care. Some seniors deplete all their assets trying pay nursing home care. Other seniors sell their homes to pay the fees. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! You have options to finance long term care and preserve your assets. We are here to help you do just that! We will help you find the best solution for your situation and protect you, your family and your assets to the fullest extent possible.
NURSING HOME CARE AND MEDICAID -THE SENIOR CARE GAP –Most nursing home fees usually start around $4,000.00 per month for one person and are often much more. Many Americans don’t have enough income to support these fees. Usually, the only other option to pay the fees is nursing home Medicaid. However, many Americans have too many assets or too much income to qualify for Medicaid which. You can’t have more than about $2,000.00 in non exempt assets or $2,000.00 in monthly income and qualify for Medicaid. Many Americans have more assets and income than that but don’t have enough to pay the nursing home bill. Thus, many elder Americans are stuck in a gap. That is why people feel they must sell their homes or spend down their life savings to pay the costs. When they have nothing left for their own care, their spouses or their families, they will qualify for nursing home Medicaid. In many cases they will have spent down their entire estate unnecessarily. DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! You don’t have to spend down all your assets or sell your home! Texas law gives you options to protect your assets and finance long term care! Let’s look together to see what will work for you.
MEDICAID CRISIS – When No Planning Is in Place –A Medicaid Crisis is a situation in which you are already in a nursing home or will soon be discharged to a nursing home and you have no plan to pay for long term care which you need immediately. This sends many seniors and their families into a panic. You have learned that Medicare will only cover your costs for a few weeks and that you don’t qualify for Medicaid. It seems your only option is to spend down your life savings, leaving nothing for your family or sell your home. You may have well meaning but inaccurate information coming at you from many directions including nursing home staff, hospital staff, bankers, financial planners, family members and even Medicaid workers or attorneys who don’t understand medicaid. This can be very confusing and intimidating. This situation can often be avoided with advance planning, but if you find yourself in a Medicaid Crisis with no plans, all is not lost. WE CAN HELP! We will work with you to find the solution that is best for you and your family.
BEWARE DON’T TRANSFER ASSETS for less than fair market value to friends or family members to qualify for Medicaid without careful planning. This can backfire and cost you and your family money and headaches. The government has created a 5 year “look back” period for the transfer of assets and gifts for future Medicaid applicants. If you transfer assets to any person for less than fair market value in the 5 years before the month you make a Medicaid Application, you may be assessed a penalty of months or even years. Then, you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket and spend down your assets. There are much better ways to qualify for Medicaid. We can help you find a solution that works for your particular set of circumstances.
Special Benefits for Veterans-Veterans, spouses of veterans and veteran’s widows who are disabled or over the age of 65 have access to long term care benefits from the VA that are not available to the rest of the population. They can qualify for additional income or help with costs of assisted living and home health care. Medicaid and other types of long term care must be coordinated with Veteran’s benefits to avoid pitfalls and maximize potential.
MEDICAID ESTATE RECOVERY PROGRAM (MERP) -DON’T LET MERP GET THE HOUSE –The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) is the program by which the federal government seeks to take the assets of some deceased persons, including their homes, to reimburse Medicaid for expenses expended on the deceased person, leaving nothing for their families.
THERE IS HELP IN TEXAS! Texas law gives Texans tools to avoid MERP claims before they begin. A Lady bird deed also known as enhanced life estate deed or a transfer on death deed can save your home. Other planning can also help. Advance Planning is key! CALL US to see how to protect your home from MERP. If you have already received a MERP claim letter, CALL US. For some people, there are also ways to avoid or reduce MERP claims after they have become a reality. We can help many people avoid or reduce MERP claims.
GUARDIANSHIP – Sometimes, a loved one may reach a stage in life where they can no longer make important decisions or tend to their own needs. As people live longer, more older Americans are becoming incapacitated in the wake of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. A guardian can step in and take over. Sometimes, guardianships are needed to protect seniors from exploitation by unscrupulous and misguided people. Please refer to our page on Guardianship to learn more about guardianship proceedings and when they may be appropriate. Please note that guardianships are not always the right solution and have many draw backs. A guardianship is an expensive, complicated and lengthy process. Please see our section on Guardianships on the Probate and Guardianship page. Alternatives to Guardianship should be explored before seeking a guardianship over an elderly loved one. PLAN IN ADVANCE TO AVOID GUARDIANSHIP. The need for a guardianship can often be entirely avoided with proper advance planning. You can use powers of attorney, wills and trusts to plan ahead to avoid guardianships for yourself and your loved ones.