What is Elder Law?
Elder Law is a specialized field of law that deals with the issues faced by the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, the elderly. This area of law combines elements of Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Conservatorship (also called Guardianship), Health Care Planning, Medicare/Medicaid Planning, and Elder Rights. Elder Law also covers Social Security Disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, asset management and preservation, long term care insurance, health insurance, retirement benefits, nursing home negligence and injury, elder abuse and fraud, powers of attorney, living trust, special needs planning and trusts, other estate planning, and probate.
Seniors are more active and live longer than ever before, but they have a new set of legal concerns that have rarely been addressed by earlier generations. Older people have always needed Wills and Estate Planning to pass their assets to their beneficiaries. Now that they are living longer, there are more issues about their future care that have to be included in Estate Planning, such as plans for housing, future medical care, and what to do if the person should become incapacitated. One of the most important questions that is being raised is how to provide long-term housing, with possibly increasing levels of care, as the seniors age. This, in turn, is giving rise to a whole new industry of senior living facilities and raising many legal questions about contract rights and the power of facilities to discharge residents. As continuing care becomes more and more expensive, seniors are also in need on information about long-term care insurance and government benefits.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of providing for the disposition of your assets following your death. When implementing your estate plan, you should consider ways to (i) minimize or eliminate federal and state estate tax liability, and any liability for related taxes (such as income tax and generation-skipping transfer tax); (ii) minimize or eliminate potential probate court administrative expenses, time delays and lack of privacy issues that may be incurred upon your incapacity and/or death; and (iii) provide an efficient structure for the management and distribution of your assets upon your incapacity and/or death. By taking an active role in planning your estate, you prevent the laws in your state from making many of these decisions for you. When preparing your estate plan, it is helpful to have an understanding of the legal documents, concepts and strategies involved. You should seek the advice of your estate planning attorney and tax advisor before implementing any of the strategies discussed in this outline.
Planning in the Event of Your Incapacity. If you become incapacitated and unable to handle your financial affairs or to make your own medical decisions, a lengthy (and sometimes costly) legal proceeding may be required to have someone appointed to act on your behalf. Furthermore, the laws of your state may prevent anyone appointed to act on your behalf from making certain decisions you might prefer unless you have left specific directions or indications of your preferences. Proper estate planning in the event of your incapacity may ease your family’s burden during such a stressful and emotional time. The use of a Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and/or Health Care Directive, or similar documents, allows you to appoint someone of your choosing to act on your behalf in the event of your incapacity, and may provide specific direction about decisions concerning your financial affairs or certain medical decisions.
Disposition of Your Assets Following Your Death. Regardless of the size of your estate or the complexity of your financial affairs, your estate plan should include a primary document that disposes of your assets following your death. Typically, a Will or a Revocable Trust is used as the primary tool for the disposition of your assets following your death. When implementing your Will or Revocable Trust, you may wish to consider provisions which: (i) minimize intra-family conflicts by clearly identifying who is to receive particular assets or shares from your estate, and possibly explaining why those persons are inheriting; (ii) protect family members from becoming destitute; (iii) provide incentives for family members to become productive; (iv) build a family member’s perception of his or her own self worth; and/or (v) promote a favored charitable or non-charitable purpose. The issues facing your beneficiaries (e.g., lack of motivation, spendthrift, divorce, disability, and creditor problems) will play a vital role in the manner in which you address these issues.
We perform estate and asset protection planning for high net worth individuals, professionals, and small business owners. We provide general business services, such as buy/selling businesses, forming business organizations, commercial real estate transactions, lease agreements, employment agreements, general business contracts and litigation. In addition, we perform probate and estate administration, wills, trusts, probate, taxes, Elder Law, bankruptcy, divorce, personal injury, Social Security Disability.
Asset Protection & Business Planning
We help clients who are small business owners and those who are most susceptible to being sued by assisting with Lawsuit and Asset Protection. We also assist with Business Succession Planning and Small Business Planning. Some of the tools and strategies used are Family Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies and Buy-Sell Agreements.
Special Needs Planning
We offer assistance to clients who have special needs family members by creating Special Needs Estate Plans. These tailored plans help them preserve government benefits while having their loved one cared for in all areas of their life: financial, educational and medical, and most importantly, their emotional and personal needs in the future.
Trust Administration & Probate
We help families who have experienced the loss of a loved one with the ensuing Probate or Trust Administration process.