Consulting with an Elder Law Attorney

Jennifer is a college student. Her father had passed away years before, and Jennifer is extremely close with her paternal grandmother, the recently-widowed Pauline. Pauline’s will leaves her modest estate to her husband, “per stirpes.” Since Pauline’s husband and son are deceased, when Pauline dies, Jennifer will receive a portion of Pauline’s estate. Unfortunately, Jennifer’s college scholarship is need-based, and her inheritance from Pauline will result in Jennifer losing her financial aid.

Martin, age 76, was enjoying his retirement in an assisted-living facility when he fell and broke his hip. He recently moved to a skilled nursing facility. Instead of $1,800/month for assisted living, Martin now pays $8,000/month for skilled nursing care. Martin wishes to have some remaining inheritance to leave his two children, but all of his funds will be exhausted within a year. The skilled nursing facility accepts Medicaid, but Martin is currently over the Medicaid asset-limit and will not qualify without “spending down” everything he has.

Harry is 35-years-old and cannot work due to an automobile accident. He receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) from the government to help meet his basic expenses. After years of litigation, Harry will now receive a $75,000 insurance settlement due to the accident. As a result of the settlement, Harry will lose his SSI payments.

These are three examples of common problems that are best handled by a special needs or elder law attorney.  Pauline’s elder law attorney can draft a new will that protects Jennifer from losing her college aid. Martin’s elder law attorney can provide him with an asset preservation plan, allowing him to qualify for Medicaid and still leave an inheritance to his children. Harry’s special needs lawyer can set up a supplemental needs trust so that he will benefit from the $75,000 settlement without losing his SSI.

As elder law and special needs attorneys, we assist families in protecting their assets and untangling the complicated morass of government rules and regulations related to public benefits. We often work with social workers, geriatric care managers, and our legal colleagues (such as personal injury attorneys) to help coordinate their efforts in meeting our clients’ legal, financial, and medical needs.