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Before You Hire a Marietta Elder Law Attorney…Ask These 10 Questions First!

Before You Hire a Marietta Elder Law Attorney…Ask These 10 Questions First!

You could never fit the dreams, goals, and desires of your family into a one-size-fits-all box. Nor can you fully anticipate the unique challenges, changes, and loss you and your loved ones may face ahead.

As impossible as it is to predict your future and generalize your dreams, that’s how equally impossible it would be to protect your family with a one-size-fits-all estate and long-term care plan.

What works for you may not work for the family down the street, and vice versa. Your family dynamics are different, your health situation is unique, your finances are different, your wishes are different, and what brings you “peace of mind” is different.

That’s why when choosing a firm to help you craft an estate or long-term care plan, it’s important to select one as unique as your family that will help you design a personalized plan to take care of your every want and need.

Most online will and trust services (…and even lawyers!) will simply plug your name into a standardized will or trust document and hit “print.” These documents rarely take into account any of the circumstances mentioned above. It’s a simple “search and replace” job.

But, what happens in the future if you can no longer care for yourself, or you decide to do something different with your life (like become a snowbird and live in multiple states), or you get sick or need to start moving assets around to fund your care? Will those documents protect you? Likely not, as the “one-size-fits-all” language will cause your documents to be out of date and irrelevant to your situation.

When you work with our Marietta estate and elder law firm, you are not just paying for a set of documents, but a relationship with an attorney who will guide you through all of life’s transitions:

  • We ensure that the investment in your planning is a solid one, and the documents created on your behalf will support you now as well as in the future.
  • The focus of our practice is exclusively on estate and elder law planning, so you can feel good knowing you are receiving a cutting-edge plan which protects your assets and the people you love….no matter what happens!
  • If the laws change, we’re going to contact you and get your plan updated. If your life circumstances change, we’ll be on the front lines helping you utilize the provisions in your documents which will allow you to stay in control and make decisions from a place of empowerment, not pressure.
  • What we offer is education and legal counseling, so you can feel good knowing you have the right legal tools to protect yourself and the people you love.

If you are still comparing long-term care planning services, we invite print out the following “10 Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney” below to take with you to your appointments when choosing a law firm that is fully equipped to meet the needs of your family. The 10 questions to ask are as follows:

  1. How do you bill clients? Do you work on a flat-fee basis or will I receive a bill for every phone call, email, or fax sent to your office?
  2. How often will you communicate with me?
  3. Will you periodically review my plan to ensure it’s up-to-date as my life and the law changes through the years? Is this included in my planning fee?
  4. What if I change my mind or want to make changes to my plan? How does that work?
  5. Will you help me fund my trust and ensure my assets are titled the right way? How will you do that?
  6. What happens if my (or my loved ones’) medical situation suddenly changes? Will we need a brand new plan, or do you have “trigger” provisions built in that allow us to achieve new goals with the documents we already have?
  7. Will you prepare custom documents for me based on my unique circumstances, family dynamics, and wishes, or will I be receiving a templated set of documents?
  8. What is your process for helping me protect as much as possible of my life’s savings and assets from long-term care and nursing home costs?
  9. What if I have a pension, retirement account, or money in the bank? I’ve been told I have “too much” to receive Medicaid benefits. How can you still help me qualify without having to spend it all first?
  10. How can you help me protect my independence? What if I or a loved one wants to stay at home as long as possible? What can you do to make that happen?

We are ready to answer these questions and educate you on the ways that Georgia Estate Plan: Worrall Law LLC can help your family create an estate and elder care plan that meets your needs both now and in the future. If you’d like to schedule a consultation at our Marietta Elder Law Attorney’s office, simply call 770-425-6060.

Elder Care Lawyer in Marietta Offers Important Strategies for Dementia Patients

Elder Care Lawyer in Marietta Offers Important Strategies for Dementia Patients

Elder care lawyers in Marietta work with families to prepare for any number of situations in the estate planning process. One circumstance that is especially relevant to elder care law is dementia. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are almost exclusively conditions which appear late in life.

Along with the emotional turmoil on the patient and family members, dementia also takes quite a financial toll. Alzheimer’s and related illnesses are typically degenerative, progressing slowly over time, while requiring considerable medical and personal care. An Elder care lawyer in Marietta has experience helping clients create plans that provide for both the medical and the quality-of-life aspects of these expenses.

Of course, early planning is critical.  If it is suspected that you or a family member is developing Alzheimer’s disease or any other ailment that impairs thinking, estate planning and other provisions should be arranged with an elder care lawyer as soon as possible.  A dementia patient’s mental capacity will decline, and in order for predefined wishes to be followed, his or her current capacity cannot be in question.  Getting started as soon as an issue is suspected is one of the best ways to ensure having the greatest say in the future.

Because of the progression of the disease, some of the most important decisions to be made are medical ones.  For example, an advance healthcare directive needs to be drawn up to designate a trustworthy person to make medical decisions for the patient when he or she is no longer able to do so.  If this person is not chosen in advance, it is likely the courts will need to appoint one at a later date. Again, taking care of this issue with an elder care lawyer in Marietta now means that you have more control over what happens later.

Asset protection is another major concern for dementia patients.  The physical progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can take many years, while the mental progression may be much faster.  This means the individual may require specialized care (including monitoring, nursing, and other personal needs) for a very long time, therefore depleting existing finances. Learning how to maximize the value of assets now can greatly impact the quality of care one can afford down the road. There is also concern regarding estate planning, as the costs associated with dementia can easily wipe out any potential inheritance unless the proper plans have been put into place.

When it comes to elder care, it makes good sense to seek a qualified elder care attorney who can help navigate the ins and outs of the system as it relates the special needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. If you are ready to get started, simply call our Marietta elder law firm at 770-425-6060 and ask to schedule a consultation.

 

 

Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys – Part 1 | Marietta Elder Law Attorney

Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys – Part 1 | Marietta Elder Law Attorney

May is National Elder Law Month, as designated by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. It is a way to acknowledge the profession that supports seniors and their families with all of their planning needs. And while that sounds great, many people still ask, “What do elder law attorneys do?” Part 1 of this series, “Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys” will explore several ways elder law attorneys help seniors and their loved ones.

Elder law attorneys help seniors and their loved ones plan for the possibility of needing long term care. 

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 10 people age 65 or older has Alzheimer’s dementia.This number is predicted to double by 2050. Alzheimer’s is also the most expensive disease in the country, with no known cure. In 2017, the average lifetime cost of care for someone with dementia was $341,810.

A diagnosis of dementia can wreak emotional and financial havoc on a family. Elder law attorneys help take the financial stress off of families by discussing options to find and pay for appropriate care without losing the family home or a lifetime of savings.

The emotional and financial cost to family caregivers is also quite alarming. 83% of all caregiving comes from family members, friends, or unpaid caregivers. 30-40% of family caregivers suffer from depression.  In 2011, a MetLife study estimated that women caregivers lose over $324,000 in lost wages and social security benefits over their lifetime. Male caregivers lose an estimated $283,000 in lost wages and social security benefits over their lifetime.

The family caregivers who are trying to work and provide care to a parent or loved one also need a legal plan. Elder law attorneys work closely with family members and caregivers to make sure they have proper legal documents in place should their health fail, or if they lose employment due to unpaid caregiving.

If it’s not in writing, it won’t be honored.

Elder law attorneys work closely with seniors to understand what should happen if they can no longer make financial decisions or health care decisions. For example, if mom develops dementia and can no longer pay the monthly bills, who will she want to have authority to access her bank account in order to get the bills paid? What type of care does she want if her dementia advances to the point that she can’t communicate her wishes? Does she want to live at home as long as possible? Does she want a private room if she’s in a facility? These are just a few questions that elder law attorneys discuss with clients, which then get put into legal documents so that mom’s wishes will be fulfilled.

My loved one is in the hospital and can’t come home – now what?

It can be very stressful for a spouse and children when a parent becomes ill and can no longer live at home safely. It can also be very expensive, putting the family’s home and savings at risk.

Elder law attorneys help families find and pay for the best long-term care possible. Unfortunately, 24 hour care at home or in a facility can cost families thousands of dollars a month. Therefore, it is often appropriate to look at other funding sources, like Medicaid or Veterans Benefits, to help offset the cost of care. Elder law attorneys help families explore options, and make the best decision for the loved one needing the care.

We will continue exploring how elder law attorneys help seniors and their families in Part 2 of “Why May is Special for Elder Law Attorneys.” In the meantime, if you have any questions or would like more information about how we, your friendly neighborhood Marietta Elder Law attorneys,  can help you or a loved one, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 770-425-6060.

How to Know When It’s Time to Step in and Care for Your Elderly Loved One

How to Know When It’s Time to Step in and Care for Your Elderly Loved One

As a Marietta Elder Law Attorney, I can vouch that the number of adult children caring for their elderly parents is growing at a very fast pace. If you are a baby boomer and not already caring for an elderly parent, chances are high that you might be facing this situation soon.  It isn’t always easy to know when, or how, to step in to ensure that your aging loved one receives the care that he or she needs. But, we’ve helped lots of Marietta area families through this stage of life and can offer tips for assisting your aging loved ones.

How to know when to step in

Age alone is not an indicator of when an elderly person needs you. Some people do quite well on their own into their nineties and beyond.  Others might need help much earlier. The key here is to look for warning signs. The signs might include frequent falls or unexplained bruises, an empty fridge, or even unopened mail. Frequent visits are the best way to get a clear picture of your loved one’s physical and mental health.

Develop a plan

If you think the time has come to step in and provide care for your elderly loved one, you should start by developing a plan that includes all family members. Consider allowing your elderly loved one to also participate in creating the plan. It’s best to start with small, easy changes that still allow your loved one to maintain his or her independence.

Meet with an Elder Law Attorney

To provide the best care for your elderly loved one, you need to ensure that you have the necessary legal protections in place. A Marietta elder law attorney can help your loved one create documents that will allow you, or someone of their choosing, to make decisions for them in financial and medical matters.

If you suspect that your loved one needs help, I encourage you to take these steps right away. We get a lot of calls from people who waited too long and are facing unnecessary financial and legal crises as a result.  Don’t limit your options. Call our Marietta elder law office at 770-425-6060 to schedule a consultation for the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing everything possible to help your loved one.

Identity Fraud Targeting the Elderly | Marietta Elder Law Attorney

Identity Fraud Targeting the Elderly | Marietta Elder Law Attorney

The largest coordinated sweep of identity fraud involving US seniors has recently been conducted. The US Department of Justice has reported that more than one million elderly people have collectively lost hundreds of millions of dollars because of this targeted financial abuse. The Department has criminally charged 200 out of 250 defendants identified in the sweep. These third party scam artists account for 27% of seniors who are financially exploited.

Con artists and scammers employ many different schemes to defraud seniors of their identity information and money. A large number of them are conducted over the telephone, for instance posing as an Internal Revenue Service agent claiming back taxes are owed, or frightening a grandparent to think that their grandchild has been arrested and needs bail money wired to them. Other schemes include the promise of a prize or lottery cash if they just send a large fee in order to collect their “winnings.”. Seniors become easy victims when targeted by these social engineering schemes and it is likely to get worse because of the proliferation of smart phones and other devices that get seniors to explore the online world.

USA Today reports that while phone scams target one senior at a time the online environment is opening doors to thousands or even millions of seniors falling prey to a single scam. Email and other online channels can reach a vast number of potential victims and more elderly people have an online presence than ever before.

Romance scams that use to be conducted in person can now be achieved in the online dating environment and even in social media. The attacker can befriend multiple seniors online and then ask for money to cover “travel expenses” to visit them. This is particularly successful as many seniors are dealing with isolation and loneliness.

The online shopping world is another vehicle employed by scam artists to defraud seniors of money. All that is needed is a picture of an object that seems to be owned by the scammer and you have the potential to sell that item over and over again to thousands of seniors. All the scam artist has to do is set up a mirror website that appears to be a legitimate online auction house such as E-bay to drain seniors of their money as well as obtain credit card and other identity information. These mirror sites masquerading as official websites are often in the email accounts of seniors and a mere click on a link can download malicious software to their device that is designed to steal critical identity information.

Of the 27% of seniors who do become financially exploited by a third party, 67% do not exhibit symptoms of cognitive decline. That is a huge number of mentally fit seniors being financially exploited. This is a pervasive problem in the elderly community. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2017” identity fraud is second only to debt collection with regard to consumer complaints. Identity fraud accounted for 14% of all consumer complaints last year. The Commission also reported that seniors who are financially exploited suffer higher median losses than other age groups.

Many seniors who have been targeted are embarrassed, ashamed, or scared as a result. Many never saw themselves as being at risk, they fear retribution from the perpetrator, and they fear that government agencies or family members will label them unfit to care for themselves.

Systems can be put in place to monitor senior accounts and make their money less easy to access by scammers. In addition, there are legal documents that can protect the accounts of seniors during their lifetime, and eliminate the chance of fraud or abuse.  Please contact us, your Marietta Elder Law Attorney, for more information on how we can help you or your loved ones reduce the chance of financial fraud or abuse.

The Dangers of Denial – Why You Need to Plan for Long-Term Care for Your Parents

The Dangers of Denial – Why You Need to Plan for Long-Term Care for Your Parents

Longer lives are among the greatest achievements of our modern era. Advances in healthcare and other progress related to human safety have resulted in what the United Nations says is one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.

However, with the success of longer lives come problems that catch most of us off-guard. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives. Few families are in the position of being able to step-up and take over the care of their elderly loved ones, so they must seek outside help.

Unfortunately, many wait until their loved one is in full-blown crisis to seek long-term care assistance. Making decisions in this way can be fraught with emotion and very expensive. That is why we highly recommend that our clients not wait until their parents are in dire need to begin the long-term care planning process. If you are struggling with finding and paying for the right long-term care option for your parent in Marietta, Georgia, here are some things you need to consider.

Appropriate Level of Care

Long-term care encompasses many different levels of care, so it’s important to match up the facility with the individual needs of your parent. Different types of facilities include skilled nursing facilities, custodial care facilities, and intermediate care facilities. While it’s not always possible to plan ahead for nursing home care, it is a good idea to become familiar with some of the long-term care facilities in your area and select the ones that you and your parent would prefer. When the time comes for long-term care, a Marietta GA elder law attorney can assist you in determining the level of care required for your parent and work with the long-term care facility of your choice.

Paying for Long-term Care

You will also need to think about how to pay for your parent’s long-term care. Facilities can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on the level of care required. Long-term care insurance policies may help defray some of these costs, but very rarely do those policies cover the entire amount needed. Special benefits are available to veterans through the VA, and Medicare may help pay for a very limited amount of time in a nursing home based on the illness/injury. Medicaid is the most common option to help pay for long-term care, but there are strict eligibility requirements attached to that assistance, and it is very easy to become disqualified from that care if your parent exceeds asset or income limits without the proper planning in place. It is important to speak with a Marietta elder law attorney to review your available options and determine the best course of action to pay for your parent’s long-term care.

Planning ahead for long-term care can make a world of difference in your life and contribute to the comfort of your parent when the time comes. If you would like to start this conversation with a Marietta elder law attorney who has extensive experience helping people find the best long-term care solutions, call our office at 770-425-6060 and schedule a consultation.

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