The clients served by elder law attorneys can be among society’s most vulnerable citizens, who often seek help when they are most in need of experienced counsel. With effective advanced planning and the help of an elder law attorney, seniors can ensure security and peace of mind as they age.
Here are the top 10 reasons seniors should consult an elder law attorney:
- To protect a spouse. When a spouse enters a nursing home for long-term care, the spouse who remains at home is often unable to maintain his or her current living standards when there is not a plan in place. Elder law attorneys work with seniors to preserve or transfer assets to avoid spousal impoverishment when a spouse enters a nursing home.
- To qualify for Medicaid, veterans’ benefits and other public benefits. Elder law attorneys work to qualify an eligible senior for Medicaid or other benefits when that person needs long-term care. An elder law attorney who is well-versed in North Carolina’s rules for these public programs can help seniors plan for a properly timed application or represent that person in an appeal after being denied benefits.
- To plan for disability. Elder law attorneys use durable powers of attorney, living trusts and "living wills" for financial management, health care decisions and other means of delegating management to another in case of incompetency or incapacity. Without a plan, courts will select someone to manage these affairs.
- For estate planning. Elder law attorneys assist seniors with disposition of an estate through the use of trusts, wills and other planning documents. A customized estate plan ensures assets stay in the family and will not be inherited by the disliked spouse of an adult child. With a plan, seniors can also control how a person can use inherited assets if the person has dependency or creditor problems or special needs. Seniors in blended families can ensure that both a current spouse and children from previous relationships are provided for upon death.
- For guardianships. Elder law attorneys represent families who seek guardianship over a senior or special needs person who is no longer able to manage his or her own affairs. They also represent people whose families have requested a guardianship.
- For estate administration or probate. Whether a person died with or without a will, elder law attorneys can assist in distributing the estate according to the terms of the will or North Carolina’s intestacy laws.
- For administering and managing trusts. Elder law attorneys are well-versed in the many laws and rules that govern trust managements, as well as the fiduciary role a trustee fills.
- For geriatric placement. Elder law attorneys can assist families of seniors in finding placement in long-term care facilities and life care communities.
- For advocacy in care settings. Elder law attorneys can advocate for seniors with issues arising from long-term care, including questions of patients’ rights and nursing home quality.
- Litigating estate and fiduciary matters. More frequently, seniors are falling victim to scams, fraud and exploitation. Elder law attorneys can represent seniors and family members who believe an elder has been exploited or abused by others.
Reach out to an experience elder law attorney for customized advice that will bring peace of mind.
Kara Gansmann is an attorney in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP, where her practice encompasses elder law and estate planning. Kara advises individuals and families with estate planning needs and asset protection tactics. In this role, she strategizes with clients to preserve assets for long-term care and to leave legacy gifts to family members. Kara works with elderly clients in need of Medicaid crisis planning and Medicaid applications. As part of her practice, Kara drafts wills, trusts and powers of attorney. In the courtroom, Kara represents clients in the administration of estates, guardianship/incompetency proceedings, and guardianship administration. Kara also litigates estate and trust matters, including will caveats, the modification or termination of trusts, and litigation arising from estate documents or fiduciary roles. She is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association Elder Law and Special Needs Section and serves as co-chair of the CLE Committee for that section. Kara also serves as a liaison between the North Carolina Bar Association Elder Law and Special Needs Section and the North Carolina Bar Association Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section.