The legal and financial issues of the elderly are multi-faceted.  "Elder Law" commonly refers to a combination of estate planning, asset protection, and the legal navigation of the many government programs and legal questions confronting persons past retirement age.

 

As we age, we have less life ahead of us in which to make and save money and often have greater expenses each month to maintain our lifestyle because of medical issues that the aging process creates.  Consequently, it becomes critical to make sound decisions about how we spend, save, and invest our resources.  It can sometimes be a matter of life and death--or at least feels like it.

 

The good news is that there are many vehicles available for elderly persons (or persons anticipating becoming elderly) to protect assets while receiving care needed, many programs available for those without assets to receive what they need, and strategies to implement to allow individuals to leave something behind for their children or other loved ones.  

 

Medicaid Planning

 

Medicaid planning, while more difficult now than a few years ago, is still worth pursuing provided one starts as early as possible.  This is particularly true given the scarcity of long-term care insurance availability.  Admission to a nursing home is no one's first choice but it is many persons' only option in the latter years of life and sometimes earlier.  Consequently, the prudent senior should learn as much as possible about Medicaid before they need it.

 

Trusts

 

Trusts come in many, many versions and can be helpful to both younger and older persons or couples to protect assets from encroachment by creditors, taxation, and long-term care in many cases.  There are costs involved in most types of trusts, however, which make their election as part of an estate plan a serious decision.  

Many trusts have been created by individuals who later wish they had not created them because of the complications and expenses they generate.  Some trusts, on the other hand, are life-savers.  The best decision is to choose an experienced attorney to assist you in deciding whether to settle a trust, and if so, what type to use.

 

Retitling Property or "I want to put my child's name on my house"

 

Less exotic legal techniques are available to protect some assets from creditors and others.  One very easy and relatively inexpensive method is retitling property into or out of joint names.  

 

Great caution must be used here, however, as the opposite of the desired result can occur.  Consult your estate planning/elder law attorney prior to retitling property.  It will be well worth the investment of your precious time and money.

 

Legal Counsel to Great People™