The Alvarez Firm’s elder law practice group acts as a personal advocate for the aging, those living with disabilities, their families and advisors. The group’s compassionate attorneys and legal professionals deliver expert guidance and comprehensive plans for those facing life’s challenges. The goal of our elder law practice is to foster peace of mind, confidence and security, today and for the future, by providing practical, results-oriented legal advice and solutions tailored to each client’s unique situation.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING
Increasingly, people are living longer, yet as we age, we are in greater need of medical care. According to recent studies, people 65 and older make up 12% of the population, but account for 35% of hospital stays, 34% of prescriptions, 38% of emergency medical responses, and 90% of nursing home use. Additionally, 12.1% of the U.S. population lives with a disability, and 2.7% live with a disability that impacts their ability for self-care. With proper planning, critical financial and health-related decisions will be made according to your wishes by the people you most trust, and your assets may be protected from the significant costs of long term care. Even if no other planning is in place, every adult should have a Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive authorizing a trusted agent to make decisions when they are no longer able.
WHY AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY?
Seniors, individuals living with disabilities and their families face complex legal issues that can impact quality of life from both a medical and financial perspective. By helping clients plan for life’s challenges, an Elder Law attorney can bring the peace of mind that comes with knowing that important steps have been taken to protect ourselves and those we love. At The Alvarez Firm we take a comprehensive and caring approach to meeting the legal goals our older or disabled clients. We address concerns such as autonomy, quality of life, housing, financial wellbeing, health care and long term care. Our professionals understand the issues and the various options for addressing them, and will tailor each plan to address our client’s unique situation.
SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Q. What is Power of Attorney?
A. A Power of Attorney (POA) for finances is used to delegate legal authority for a principal (the person granting the POA) to a trusted agent who will make non-medical decisions on his or her behalf. A POA must be “durable” if it is to be used after the principal has lost mental capacity. Not all POAs are the same, and successful Elder Law planning often requires that certain powers be specifically authorized.
Q. Is a POA also used for medical decisions?
A. A POA appointing someone to make medical decisions when you are not able is an important component of an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD). A comprehensive AHCD can also contain instructions regarding how your medical care should be carried out, who should make decisions regarding your funeral and burial, and whether (and for what purpose) your organs may be donated. The Alvarez Firm works closely with clients to develop thorough AHCDs that accurately convey the wishes of our clients regarding their medical care.
Q. What is a Special Needs Trust?
A. A carefully-drafted Special Needs Trust allows individuals with disabilities to have an unlimited amount of assets held in trust for their benefit while maintaining disability-related public benefits. An individual of any age can be the beneficiary of a special needs trust, but there are strict rules regarding the creation and funding of such trusts. Our Elder Law professionals can guide families and disabled individuals through the process of setting up such a trust.
Q. What help is there to pay for long term care?
A. The costs of long term care can be devastating for disabled individuals and their families. But those for whom long term care insurance is not an option may have other possible means available to help pay for that care. Public benefits are available to pay some or all of nursing home costs, and veterans or their surviving dependents may qualify for a special pension to help reimburse costs of care at home or in a residential care facility. Our Elder Law professionals are experts at explaining options that may be available and evaluating eligibility for available benefits.
For more information on these and any related questions, please contact us.