Aging comes with both benefits and challenges. Many older adults experience a combination of gratitude for the long life they’ve enjoyed and concerns around their health and the legal complications of aging.
At the law firm of Shann M. Chaudhry Esq., Attorney at Law PLLC, we understand that older adults have different legal needs than younger individuals. We work diligently to help address those needs so that you can relax enjoy what you’ve built. From legacy and estate planning to designating power of attorney, we help clients understand their options and create a plan that’s tailored to their needs during their later years.
1. What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
Texas elder law attorneys specialize in addressing the needs unique to older adults. Elder law attorneys don’t just help their clients navigate elder law issues—they advocate for them in difficult situations.
Elder law attorneys handle legal work related to:
- Estate planning and wills
- Long-term care planning
- Guardianship and powers of attorney
- Medical directives and other decision-making documents
- Special needs planning
- Retirement planning
- Health care planning
- Medicaid planning
Additionally, they often do legal work in support of disabled persons and their families.
Attorney-client relationships are key to the practice of elder law. An elder law attorney pays careful attention to their client’s needs, goals, and family situation, providing holistic legal counsel and developing a supportive relationship with the client.
2. When Should I Start Working With an Elder Law Attorney?
There’s no correct answer as to exactly when you should start working with a Texas elder law attorney. That said, starting the planning process by the age of 60 helps clients for a number of reasons.
First, the sooner you begin asset protection and estate planning, the greater the legal and financial security you can create. For instance, if you’d like to gradually pass on a family business to your beneficiaries, you’ll have the time to develop a secure legal framework for this transition.
Second, health complications can be unpredictable. If you lose capacity due to health issues, you’ll have far less control of the process if you don’t have sufficient legal planning in place.
3. How Much Does an Elder Law Attorney Cost?
The cost of hiring an elder law attorney varies according to the services you need and the complexity of the legal work involved.
However, hiring an attorney can still be cost-efficient compared to the time, money, and stress you’ll spend on addressing issues when a personalized plan hasn’t been put in place.
4. What are the Essential Documents I Will Need?
At a minimum, we always recommend that people set up essential documents, including:
- A will
- Directive to physician/living will
- Powers of attorney
- Medical power of attorney
- Durable power of attorney
- Nomination of guardian
These documents will ensure that there are clear directions as to your preferences in the event of a health challenge or medical issue. Even having a basic will can save your family significant time, effort, stress, and money in probate.
But some people benefit from creating a more in-depth estate plan. If you own a business or unusual or complex assets or you plan to leave assets to beneficiaries or a charity, you may also benefit from creating a trust or other planning strategy.
A trust keeps the details of your estate more private since probate is part of the public record, and it also means that after you pass on, your beneficiaries may receive your assets faster and with less stress than they would through a will alone.
A Texas elder law attorney can talk with you and determine which documents make the most sense for your goals and situation.
5. Have the Attorneys at SMC ESQ PLLC Handled Cases Similar to Mine?
When working with any attorney, it’s always useful to know whether they’ve worked on matters like yours. This is especially true for a practice area as specific as elder law.
At SMC ESQ PLLC, we work with individuals and families in all matters of business and estate planning, as well as other areas of elder law. We believe that one of our greatest strengths as Texas elder law attorneys is our ability to listen to our clients.
We take the time to hear your goals and concerns and we’ll work with you to create and implement a plan that’s unique to you. We regularly coordinate with other professionals, such as your financial advisors, so that everyone is on the same page.
6. How Long Have You Been Practicing Elder Law?
It can be helpful to have a sense of how long your attorney has been practicing law, especially elder law.
At SMC ESQ PLLC, we have many years of experience in a range of matters relating to elder law, including asset protection, estate planning, direction-giving documents, and special needs planning.
7. When Should I Start Estate Planning?
While there’s no set age at which to begin estate planning, many people set up a Will and direction-giving documents, such as power of attorney, as soon as they become legal adults. They do this to ease the burden on their families should catastrophe fall, and they update their documents every few years.
For more involved estate planning, we recommend creating protections and plans for minor children not long after they’re born. You may also wish to set up trusts for them.
8. What Documents Do I Need to Start Medicaid Planning?
The Medicaid application looks at your finances at the time you apply and for five years prior. This “look back” period is part of why it’s important to begin Medicaid planning early. Gifts or the sale of assets made within the last five years may render you temporarily ineligible for Medicaid.
To start Medicaid planning, your Texas elder law attorney will want you to gather five years worth of financial documents, including:
- Tax returns
- Monthly bank statements
- Financial transfers over a certain threshold (varies by county), including checks and withdrawals
- Investment and retirement accounts
- Estates of which you are a beneficiary
- Real estate or homeownership
- Sale of assets
- Insurance policies
9. When Should I Begin Long-Term Care Planning?
While there’s no set answer as to when you should begin long-term care planning, it’s generally recommended to begin the process in your 50s, if you haven’t already.
Part of the reason for this is that the sooner you start, the more options you have. Those who want to get a head start on the process often begin planning in their 40s.
We always recommend, to the extent that it’s available, long-term care insurance.
10. What Qualities Should I Look For in an Elder Law Attorney?
When you work with a Texas elder law attorney, you’re looking at developing a lifelong relationship. It’s important that you feel comfortable working with your attorney and that they listen fully to your goals and concerns.
Any attorney who is practicing elder law is working with people who may become more vulnerable with the passage of time, so trust is paramount. Look for an attorney who’s empathetic and a good listener.
Ready to Start Planning for Your Future? Speak with a San Antonio Elder Law Attorney Today
The Texas elder law attorneys at the law firm of Shann M. Chaudhry Esq., Attorney at Law PLLC have extensive experience in working with individuals and families in business and estate planning, special needs planning, and other matters of elder law.
We enjoy building lifelong relationships with the people we work with. We’ll listen carefully to your needs and goals, help create a unique plan for your situation, and support you in implementing it. Our process is grounded in empathy and service the whole way through.
If you need elder law support or planning, contact us. Our knowledgeable attorneys can guide you through the process.