Making sure you have your legal house in order by turning to the professionals…
by Gail Arno, CMC, ECM Director of Care Management
As Care Managers, one of the first responsibilities that we undertake with new clients is to ensure that their legal house is in order. This is a critical task that is often neglected or overlooked. Although we understand that this can be a confusing topic, these conversations are essential in enabling our Care Managers to support our clients’ desired outcomes. Elder and Estate Planning Law are specialty areas within the legal world that can enhance and support the success of the aging process. Although we find that many of our clients are well equipped with their planning in both Elder Law and Estate Planning, we also run across many families that have yet to discuss the details of this area and need referral options.
Arranging the proper and appropriate legal documents in place can give you the necessary legal support to plan for the future, secure your assets, and ensure your wishes are honored should you not be able to speak for yourself or your partner. Elder Law issues can be complex and, therefore, an Elder Law Attorney can help you to plan for what may happen should you become physically or mentally incapable of taking care of yourself. A few of the legal specialties that Elder Law Attorneys focus on are Power of Attorney (POA) documents (medical and financial), long-term care planning, Medicare and Medicaid (Medi-cal in California) planning, Veteran’s Benefits, disability status, and even elder abuse issues.
When working with an Elder Law Attorney, you will address issues regarding your finances, assets, and your vision of your aging experience while you are still able to fully orchestrate and sculpt your choices. Estate Law covers what you leave to your loved ones when you die and how you leave it, to minimize potential probate complications and estate tax liabilities. State laws are very specific about what can and cannot be included in a will, a living trust, advance medical directives, or even financial POA. Working with a qualified Elder Law Attorney can help avoid simple yet very costly mistakes if you are not aware of your state’s regulations. In-kind, Care Management can be a beneficial support to some clients partnering with Elder Law Attorneys as additional needs for advocacy and support that extend outside the scope of the legal realm become apparent. Referrals to ECM services often accompany a client whose needs for guidance extend to medical, financial, social, and emotional capacities.
As Care Managers, we have the honor of working on behalf of our clients from all angles of their unique circumstances. We ensure that our clients receive the professional referrals they need that are applicable to their own unique aging process. Although we are experts in many areas of the aging process, we recognize that the law is a particular specialty that requires legal experts. Should you be interested in checking or referencing an Elder Law Attorney you can visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) website.