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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

May is Older Americans Month and National Elder Law Month

POSTED ON: May 8, 2024

May is Older Americans Month and National Elder Law Month. The purpose of Older Americans Month is to acknowledge and celebrate the vitality and achievements of older people. National Elder Law Month is dedicated to educating the community about the skills elder law firms provide to help older adults navigate important issues that arise.

What is Elder Law?

Elder law attorneys specialize in helping seniors with a variety of legal issues. Elder law became a specialty in the 1980s when seniors were facing complicated legal issues like qualifying for Medicaid (currently known as MassHealth in Massachusetts).

Hiring an elder law attorney, also known as an elder care attorney, like Matthew Karr, Esq., is a key step to protect your hard-earned assets and get any benefits you or your loved ones may be entitled to. There are advantages to working with an elder law attorney:

  • We are experienced in communicating with older adults and their families on legal issues.
  • We have working knowledge of the professional and community resources that are available to meet the needs of older people.
  • We have the expertise to prevent and solve problems in several areas of importance to older adults.

How We Can Help

Estate planning: Estate planning is needed to control how your assets are given to your loved ones and the organizations you care most about. Also, we can help you avoid the costs and time associated with probate.

Asset protection: We’ll talk to you about estate planning techniques to protect your assets now and in the future.

Tax planning: You can minimize estate taxes by using the right estate planning strategies.

MassHealth planning: MassHealth is a joint federal/state program that supports the cost of nursing home care for people who qualify by meeting strict income and asset limits. By using certain planning strategies, we can help protect your assets and quality of life, while saving your family significant money. We can also help you through the burdensome and often confusing application process to get MassHealth benefits.

Long-term care planning, including home options: We’ll discuss your needs and review the options that would work best for you.

Incapacity planning: A durable power of attorney (POA) puts a person in control of your legal and financial decisions should you become incapacitated or unable to make your own decisions. If you become incapacitated without creating a durable power of attorney, your loved ones won’t be able to access your bank account or write checks on your behalf.

In Massachusetts, a medical POA is known as a health care proxy. It gives another person the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. Creating a health care proxy will ensure that someone you trust will be able to quickly make decisions for you on your behalf without having to petition the court to appoint them as your health care agent.

Living will: This document expresses your wishes for end-of-life care. A living will isn’t legally binding in Massachusetts, but it’s important because it allows you to state the type of medical care you would like to receive or have withheld.

Special needs trust: This type of trust is generally a very effective way to maintain or achieve eligibility for need-based public assistance for the benefit of a person with disabilities. The trust can then be used to supplement the older person’s care while MassHealth pays for long-term care.

Estate and trust administration: When a person dies, their estate must be administered. This includes filing the will with the probate court, paying creditors, taking inventory of the property, paying taxes, notifying the beneficiaries, and distributing the assets. This process is called estate administration. If the person who died had a will or had no will or trust, the estate must go through the probate process. If the person had a trust, the assets will be handled through a trust administration.

Contact us today

Many people feel like they don’t know where to start when it comes to elder law matters and estate planning. We’ll walk you through the process every step of the way and make it as easy for you as possible. And when you’re done, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that everything is in place to best handle what the future brings. Contact us today.