Discovering the Benefits of Elder Law for SeniorsPosted on December 11, 2023 by shieldsandboris
The number of senior citizens in the United States is on the rise. According to data cited by PBS NewsHour, there are now more than 55 million senior citizens nationwide—and that number could grow as high as 80 million within the next two decades. Older Americans have unique legal needs. Elder law is a specialized practice area designed to help senior citizens handle any challenges that they must face. A proactive approach to elder law can bring major benefits to senior citizens. In this article, you will find a guide to elder law for senior citizens in Western Pennsylvania.
Elder Law: Explained
Senior citizens and those approaching senior citizen status have unique legal needs. Elder law is a specialized legal field focused on helping older people and their families navigate a wide range of specific matters. Indeed, an elder law attorney in Western Pennsylvania can provide comprehensive legal guidance and support designed to protect you today and tomorrow. Notably, elder law involves proactive planning and dealing with imminent, even emergency situations. Here are some of the specific practice areas of an elder law attorney:
- Estate Planning: Estate planning involves creating a plan for managing your assets and affairs after you pass away or become incapacitated. Among other things, estate planning includes drafting a will, setting up trusts, and arranging for powers of attorney (POA).
- Asset Protection and Wealth Preservation: Asset protection is an area of elder law that focuses on strategies to protect and preserve an individual's wealth, especially to ensure financial security in later years and for future generations.
- Long-Term Care Planning: Long-term care planning is about preparing for potential long-term healthcare needs, such as nursing home care or in-home assistance. According to data from the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA), the cost of a private room in a nursing home in the Commonwealth now exceeds $110,000 per year. Proper planning can help reduce your financial risk.
- Health Care Needs (Medicare): An elder law attorney can help navigate Medicare—the federal health insurance program that helps seniors cover health care costs. Your lawyer can ensure that you understand Medicare benefits, supplement plans, and how to manage the process.
- Legacy Planning: You have built a legacy. Elder law can make it last. Legacy planning goes beyond financial aspects to include how one's values, beliefs, and possessions are passed on. It often involves charitable giving, ethical wills, preservation of personal and family history, and a wide range of other matters.
- Probate and Estate Administration: Finally, an elder law attorney can help you navigate probate and estate administration in Pennsylvania—from managing the estate to resolving debts and taxes to ensure that the process is handled properly.
The Benefits That a Pennsylvania Elder Law Attorney Can Provide
You understand what an elder law attorney in Pennsylvania does—but what are the benefits of actually retaining one? For people and families, there are many different advantages to working with a top-tier elder lawyer. Here are some of the most notable benefits:
- Ensure that Your Estate is in Order: One of the most critical aspects of elder law is estate planning. It is not just about deciding who gets what: Elder law is about ensuring your wishes are respected, even if you are unable to express them yourself. A top elder law attorney will help you draft a will, set up trusts, and make sure your assets are distributed as you desire. Beyond that, your lawyer can help you with other estate planning matters, powers of attorney, and advance healthcare directives.
- Protect Your Hard-Earned Assets: With costs rising, protecting your assets becomes even more important. You have worked hard for your assets—and naturally, you want to protect them. Asset protection is a key component of elder law. A top-tier lawyer can guide you in structuring your finances to safeguard your assets from unforeseen liabilities, such as the potentially high costs of long-term care. With the right strategies in place, you will be able to preserve your wealth from many different risks.
- Handle Health Care and Caregiver Issues: Senior citizens have more pronounced healthcare needs. If you or your loved one is a senior, it is imperative that you know how to manage healthcare needs. Navigating health care gets more challenging, especially when considering Medicare, Medicaid, and long-term care insurance. An elder lawyer can assist you in understanding and maximizing these benefits, ensuring that you receive the healthcare you need without exhausting your resources.
- Get You and Your Family on the Same Page: Family dynamics can be complicated, and this is especially true when discussing the future. A well-qualified elder law attorney can facilitate these conversations, helping you and your family understand the legal and financial implications of aging. This ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding your wishes and the plans in place, reducing the potential for conflict or confusion in the future. Open communication can make a big difference.
- Develop a Legacy that You Can Pass On: Are you preparing to leave a legacy to your family, your loved ones, and your community? An elder law attorney can help. Legacy planning is about more than just determining where assets should go. Legacy planning is about the values, stories, and memories you wish to pass on. A skilled elder lawyer can help understand, clarify, articulate, and, most importantly, formalize your wishes. Whether it is through charitable giving, establishing scholarships, or simply ensuring that your family history is preserved and passed on.
Get Help From an Elder Law Attorney in Western Pennsylvania
At The Elder Law Offices of Shields & Boris, we help senior citizens protect their interests and establish a legacy. If you have any specific questions about how elder law can benefit you, we can help. Call us at (724) 235-7939 or contact us online to arrange a confidential initial appointment. Our firm provides elder law services in the Pittsburgh area and throughout Western Pennsylvania, including in Allegany County, Westmoreland County, Washington County, and Fayette County.
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