Elder Care & Special Needs Law

Our experienced elder care and special needs law attorneys go beyond traditional planning to address the needs of seniors and individuals with disabilities by assisting them in Long-Term Care Planning and Advocacy, Guardianships and Conservatorships, and End-of-Life Planning. We address the financial burden of the cost of care by advocating for our clients and maximizing their eligibility for government benefits, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans’ benefits. We also assist our clients in locating appropriate care, as well as coordinating private and public resources to finance that care. Our services blend estate planning with long-term care planning, as we believe that estate planning is not just about what happens after you die, but how you will live.

Long-Term Care Planning

Long-term care planning addresses health care needs, family dynamics, personal values, and resources available to the client. Our goal throughout the planning process is to create a long-term relationship between our firm and our clients to offer continued guidance, advocacy, and support as changes in health, finances, and lifestyle occur. Throughout the process, we assist clients and their families in preparing for challenges that may arise from aging, illness, and disability. Our experienced staff assesses a client’s current finances and health care needs and develops a plan by outlining any issues that the client currently faces and providing insight into disease progression and potential challenges that the client may face down the road. The plan is centered on asset preservation and planning for long-term health needs by identifying third-party payer sources, ensuring the correct level of care, and protecting assets. In addition, we consult with clients regarding placement and support options, services available through government and private agencies, and proactive planning for future needs. We also advocate for our clients in facilities and with providers, including reviewing admission agreements, to ensure that resident’s and family members’ rights are protected. We also have deep expertise and personal experience with special needs issues, including the transition to adult services, and can provide guidance far beyond simply setting up a special needs trust.

Unfortunately, many clients wait until they need nursing home care before consulting an elder law attorney about estate planning and health care documents. This delay can be costly. Pre-crisis planning has many advantages:

  • It helps you get the care you need today.
  • It increases the chances you can age in place, preserving your independence.
  • It often provides more opportunity for asset protection.
  • It ensures you do not make innocent mistakes that can result in Medicaid ineligibility.
  • It provides you and your family with a network of support to help you prepare for and deal with transitions and crises as they occur.

Guardianships and Conservatorships

When issues of capacity arise, there may be no one able to access accounts or make medical decisions. In these cases, we assist clients in obtaining guardianships to address the health care decision-making and financial needs of disabled loved ones. We assist vulnerable individuals to protect themselves through conservatorships actions. Guardianship and conservatorship are obtained through petitioning the Superior Court. With our extensive experience handling these matters, our firm can help you maneuver the legal system and keep costs down.

Special Needs Advocacy

We also have deep expertise and personal experience with special needs issues, including the transition to adult services, and can provide guidance far beyond simply setting up a special needs trust.

End-of-Life Planning

One of the hardest things for clients to talk about is planning for end-of-life care. This includes appointing agents to make decisions concerning health care and expressing wishes regarding life-prolonging measures and treatment. We help individuals and families gain control of the dying process and maintain independence through the end of life. It is important to understand the patient’s medical condition; expected prognosis; and the patient’s specific goals, such as spending time at home with family, prolonging life to attend an important family event, or simply wanting to be comfortable and pain-free regardless of the length of life.  We go beyond the creation of a health care proxy and living will by educating our clients on mental health advanced directives, Practitioner Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), and palliative care, hospice, and DNR options.

To better serve our clients, our elder law group includes Lori Kayne, Geriatric Social Worker, and Laura Ocskay, Medicaid Specialist.

In many complex matters, especially those involving high-assets, we have the advantage of being able to work with attorneys from our other practice areas including those with experience in litigation, corporate, tax, real estate, immigration, family law, and estate planning. At Norris McLaughlin, our trusts and estates and immigration attorneys have worked together to develop the specialized documents and processes needed to protect undocumented individuals and their families, a sort of Deportation Family Protection Package. We can assist you to provide legal authority for a caregiver for medical and educational purposes, appoint a standby or temporary guardian for your child, and ensure your assets and your children’s assets are protected.

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