Texas Elder Law Attorneys

Protect and preserve your autonomy and finances through planning

With rising expenses and the restrictions of long-term care, older adults face the challenge of preserving both their autonomy and their finances.

At the law firm of Shann M. Chaudhry Esq., Attorney at Law PLLC, our compassionate Texas elder law attorneys work with clients to help them plan for their financial and legal needs as they age.

We pride ourselves on our prompt, clear communication with all our clients—understanding your needs is critical to addressing your elder law questions.

If you or a loved one needs elder law services, contact us. Our experienced attorneys would love to answer your questions and walk you through all stages of planning for retirement and beyond.

What Is Elder Law?

As an area of legal practice, elder law focuses on older adults and their issues and concerns.

The goal of elder law? To preserve your autonomy and financial reserves if issues arise later in life, such as becoming incapacitated or needing long-term care.

Unlike estate planning, which generally deals with what happens after you pass on, elder law addresses the challenges you may face when you’re still living.

Elder law is important because it helps avoid situations like spending your life’s savings paying for a nursing home, assisted living facility, or at-home care.

At SMC ESQ PLLC, our Texas elder law attorneys work with you to create a tailor-made plan for aging that addresses your unique needs, goals, and family situations.

Our Elder Law Services

Our approach to our legal work is centered on our founding values of authenticity, empathy, gratitude, education, and service.

We recognize that elder planning involves thoughtfully reflecting on big questions.

As such, we guide our clients through the planning process in manageable steps.

From start to finish, our process is compassionate and communicative. We balance educating clients on the processes of elder law with a “let’s make this manageable” approach. Clients should feel comfortable with their decisions but never overwhelmed with information.

When clients talk about long-term care planning before they need it, they limit the challenges and concerns that making last-minute decisions can have on their families.

Long-term care planning includes:

  • Asset protection
  • Creating trusts to fund care
  • Creating life estates
  • Disability planning
  • Reviewing admissions contracts and agreements with care facilities

While these topics aren’t lighthearted, it’s far better to have clear, transparent conversations now than to leave them to your loved ones to sort out once a crisis is already at hand.

If someone has a physical or mental illness, a special needs trust allows them to receive income without losing their eligibility for the public benefits that help cover the cost of their care.

Self-funded special needs trusts

Self-funded special needs trusts may be funded by:

  • Gifts
  • Inheritance
  • Settlements
  • More

These trusts hold money that already belongs to a physically or mentally ill beneficiary, without the beneficiary holding the funds outright in their name. However, these trusts are created by someone other than the beneficiary, such as a family member or legal guardian.

Third-party-funded special needs trusts

Parents of children with disabilities often use these types of trusts. Third-party-funded special needs trusts must be funded by someone other than the beneficiary, such as a parent or guardian. They supplement government benefits and can be used for almost anything a beneficiary needs.

Special needs trusts

If someone has a physical or mental illness, a special needs trust allows them to receive income without losing their eligibility for the public benefits that help cover the cost of their care.

Self-funded special needs trusts

Self-funded special needs trusts may be funded by:

  • Gifts
  • Inheritance
  • Settlements
  • More

These trusts hold money that already belongs to a physically or mentally ill beneficiary, without the beneficiary holding the funds outright in their name. However, these trusts are created by someone other than the beneficiary, such as a family member or legal guardian.

Third-party-funded special needs trusts

Parents of children with disabilities often use these types of trusts. Third-party-funded special needs trusts must be funded by someone other than the beneficiary, such as a parent or guardian. They supplement government benefits and can be used for almost anything a beneficiary needs.

If paying for long-term care is a concern, clients should consider Medicaid planning.

Medicaid planning involves restructuring finances to help ensure Medicaid eligibility. Due to the high monthly cost of long-term care, Medicaid planning can be relevant for many people, even those who have been strong earners. It’s possible to qualify for Medicaid even if you and your spouse still own your family home.

Many people assume that they need to sell or give away assets to qualify for Medicaid. However, this isn’t the case.

In Texas, there is a 60-month lookback period, and during this time, the state looks at all asset transfers. Unplanned transfers can lead to temporary ineligibility for Medicaid, but our Texas elder law attorneys can help you create a legal plan for Medicaid eligibility that considers your finances, goals, preferences, and family members.

If your assets are greater than the threshold to qualify for Medicaid, a Medicaid asset protection trust (MAPT) can be a helpful planning tool.

These trusts are irrevocable, which means they can’t be canceled. When you create a MAPT, the assets that make up the trust belong to the trust itself, not you. That means they can’t be counted as your individual income, helping you establish eligibility for Medicaid.

The beneficiary of a MAPT can’t be the same person who created the trust, but a MAPT can help preserve assets for their family members and loved ones.

Medicaid asset protection trust

If your assets are greater than the threshold to qualify for Medicaid, a Medicaid asset protection trust (MAPT) can be a helpful planning tool.

These trusts are irrevocable, which means they can’t be canceled. When you create a MAPT, the assets that make up the trust belong to the trust itself, not you. That means they can’t be counted as your individual income, helping you establish eligibility for Medicaid.

The beneficiary of a MAPT can’t be the same person who created the trust, but a MAPT can help preserve assets for their family members and loved ones.

Qualified income trust (Miller Trust)

A qualified income trust is a legal remedy for individuals whose monthly income would disqualify them from Medicaid. With such a trust in place, money above a certain amount is redirected from your checking account to the trust.

For example, Social Security benefits may sometimes disqualify a person from Medicaid. With a qualified income trust, also known as a Miller Trust, in place, a person can receive their benefits and still qualify for Medicaid.

Deed retaining enhanced life estate (Lady Bird Deed)

An enhanced life estate deed, also known as a Lady Bird Deed, allows the person who creates the deed (the grantor) to transfer real property to someone else. Once the deed is signed, this other person owns the property. However, the grantor retains rights to the property.

In Texas, this means the grantor can:

  • Live on and use the property
  • Lease the property
  • Mortgage the property
  • Sell the property

The grantor can do all these things without getting consent from the person who technically owns the property (the remainderman). When the grantor passes on, the remainderman retains control of the property.

Deed retaining enhanced life estate (Lady Bird Deed)

An enhanced life estate deed, also known as a Lady Bird Deed, allows the person who creates the deed (the grantor) to transfer real property to someone else. Once the deed is signed, this other person owns the property. However, the grantor retains rights to the property.

In Texas, this means the grantor can:

  • Live on and use the property
  • Lease the property
  • Mortgage the property
  • Sell the property

The grantor can do all these things without getting consent from the person who technically owns the property (the remainderman). When the grantor passes on, the remainderman retains control of the property.

Speak With an Experienced San Antonio Elder Law Attorney Today

At the law firm of Shann M. Chaudhry Esq., Attorney at Law PLLC, our skilled, knowledgeable Texas elder law attorneys can guide you through the process of planning for your future and aging.

Centered in empathy and a commitment to clear, prompt communication, our team recognizes that every person’s financial situation and goals are different. We work with you to create a plan that fits your specific needs and preferences.

If you or a loved one needs elder law services, contact us. Our experienced Texas attorneys can help you get started today. 

Texas Elder Law FAQs

Why hire an elder law attorney?

An elder law attorney can help you plan for the future in a way that enables you to prepare for complications—and helps prevent the burden from falling on your family, should something happen suddenly.

Our Texas elder law attorneys specialize in legal services that support older adults in retaining autonomy and preserving their finances as they age.

At what age should you contact an elder law attorney?

Everyone’s health, support network, and financial situation are different. Therefore, it’s difficult to say precisely when you should begin planning for the potential complications of aging.

However, it’s generally recommended that adults begin a conversation with an elder law attorney around age sixty-five, even if they’re in excellent health.

What’s the difference between elder law and estate planning?

Elder law planning focuses on legal issues and financial planning questions while you’re still living. These can be related to qualifying for Medicaid, setting up trusts and life estates, and more.

On the other hand, estate planning mostly has to do with what happens after you die. It helps:

At SMC ESQ PLLC, our Texas elder law attorneys have extensive experience helping clients create individualized legal and financial protections for aging. We also practice estate law and can assist individuals and families in planning their estates.