Many individuals have not heard of "elder law" attorneys before. While it can be an elusive term, it is imperative that everyone learn more about elder law and why hiring an elder law attorney can be extremely beneficial. Elder law issues can be complicated. If the different processes are not handled according to Pennsylvania court procedure, it can mean the difference between a ruling in your favor or losing everything.
State Law Governs Elder Law Procedure
As previously stated, elder law issues can be extremely complex, and this is because there is a lengthy set of texts that control also every aspect of most elder law cases. For example, the state statutes rule on what must be included in a will and what cannot be included in a will.
Similarly, the statutes also dictate the composition of advanced medical directives, trusts, and powers of attorney. There are procedures for not only completing a will but also how the will shall be signed. Elder law attorneys spend many years memorizing, researching, and putting into practice the requirements for situations that are handled under elder law.
This also includes Medicaid, which is a federal program, however, is administratively dealt with at the local state level. Someone experiencing difficulty with Medicaid will need an experienced elder law attorney to help reach a positive outcome.
Many individuals come across forms on the Internet or from family members that seem to relate to the elder law case at hand and attempt to use these to represent themselves in elder law matters. While some litigants may be able to get by on family help and Internet forms, it is a risky route to take. All it takes is one wrong check mark, faulty editing, or misunderstanding legal terms that could result in a lengthy case or a case that is dismissed altogether.
Laws vary from state to state so using a form that is meant for Georgia instead of Pennsylvania can mean the will may be invalid. Imagine loved ones finding out after one's death that the will was actually invalid, this can cause a lot of animosity in a family when a family member dies without a will.
It is common for individuals to also fill out Medicaid forms on their own, only to find out they do not qualify. This can be devastating for many who were depending on Medicaid. Typically, the individual is not actually disqualified from Medicaid, they just did not know how to properly fill out the form and complete the procedures.
When to Hire an Elder Law Attorney
There are many instances in life when consulting with an elder law attorney is necessary. The following will help individuals decide if an elder law attorney is necessary for any elder law issues they may be dealing with. Contact an elder law attorney if:
You need a will
You need a trust or living trust
You are applying to Medicaid
You or a loved one may become physically or mentally incapacitated
You are in a second (or more) marriage
You own a business
You have children or a child with a disability
You do not have any children
You wish to leave part of your estate to charity
You have a large amount of assets in real estate, 401Ks, or IRAs
You recently went through the divorce process
Your spouse died
Understanding Elder Law
Any of the above situations can get complicated when it comes to elder law issues. For example, we can help when choosing a beneficiary when one does not have any children and structure the will properly. We can also help with designating someone other than a spouse to make medical decisions/funeral arrangements after a divorce.
Hiring an elder law attorney not only provides an avenue of assistance, but they also provide reassurance throughout the process, intelligent and kind advice, and can walk you through every step of the way so you completely understand the process. Your elder law attorney is a source of information and will make sure to fully inform you before you are required to make any decisions. Do not take the risk of being unprotected when dealing with elder law issues.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with us, call our Pittsburgh office. Call Kim A. Bodnar, Attorney at Law today.
This blog is for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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