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A Look at a Few of the Issues that Elder Law Attorneys Deal with on a Day-to-Day Basis


PAUL A. KRAFT Indiana Estate Planning Attorney What Is an Elder Law Attorney?


Elder law attorneys focus on matters that are of particular interest to senior citizens. It is important to discuss the eventualities of aging with a licensed professional if you want to be comprehensively prepared for the future. Let's look at a few of the issues that elder law attorneys deal with on a day-today basis.

LONG-TERM CARE COSTS When you work you are paying taxes, and part of what you pay goes toward future Medicare coverage. Medicare is a government health insurance program for senior citizens You gain eligibility by accumulating retirement credits. You can earn up to four credits per year. If you have accumulated at least 40 credits, you will qualify when you reach the age of 65. In 2014 you get one credit for every $1200 that you earn. If you earn at least $4800, you get the maximum four credits for 2014. As you can see, the requirements are rather modest. Most people are going to pay taxes on a minimal amount of income for at least 10 years. As a result, the majority of Americans qualify for Medicare coverage at the age of 65. Medicare will help, but it does not cover everything. There are deductibles, copayments, and premiums that enter the picture. You should be prepared for these out-of-pocket expenses. The Medicare program does not cover long-term care at all. Living assistance is considered to be custodial care. Custodial care is not covered. If you have to stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility, Medicare won't help.

What Is an Elder Law Attorney?


Assisted-living costs are very high, and they have been rising by a few percentage points annually. According to the Genworth 2013 Cost of Care Survey, the median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home in Indiana in 2013 was $85,775. A year in a private, one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility averaged $44,460. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells us that most of the adults in the United States will need living assistance eventually. When you add all of these facts together you can see that it is likely that you will need long-term care, Medicare won't pay for it, and it is very expensive. Elder law attorneys assist clients who are concerned about long-term care costs.

MEDICAID PLANNING Medicare won't pay for long-term care, but Medicaid will pay for it if you can qualify. Many people are surprised to hear that Medicaid actually pays for the majority of the long-term care expenses that are incurred by seniors. This is true even though most of them were qualified for Medicare. Medicaid is a need-based program. You have to be able to demonstrate significant financial need to qualify. Many people “spend down� in an effort to meet the eligibility qualification criteria. Spending down involves divesting yourself of assets in advance of applying for Medicaid. You have to complete this spend down well in advance of submitting your application, because there is a five year look back period. If you give away assets within five years of applying for Medicaid, your eligibility is delayed.

What Is an Elder Law Attorney?


Elder law attorneys have a thorough understanding of the Medicaid program rules and regulations. They assist clients who want to take steps to preserve assets with future Medicaid eligibility in mind.

INCAPACITY PLANNING To be prepared for the eventualities of aging you should consider possible incapacity late in your life. You may be unable to make your own decisions during your twilight years. Elder law attorneys help clients prepare for this eventuality. You can select people of your own choosing to make decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation through the execution of documents called durable powers of attorney. Because they are in fact durable, they remain in effect even if you become incapacitated. If you don't think that you will ever become incapacitated, you should understand some of the facts. According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly 45 percent of people who are at least 85 suffer from the disease. One out of every eight individuals who is at least 65 has contracted Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's can strip you of your decision-making capabilities. The existence of Alzheimer's alone is enough to make incapacity planning a must. This being stated, Alzheimer's is not the only cause of incapacitation.

What Is an Elder Law Attorney?


ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE Another pressing matter within the elder law community is that of elder financial abuse. Untold tens of millions of dollars are lost every year due to instances of abuse. It is difficult to know exactly how much is lost, because much of the abuse goes unreported. This is because the perpetrators of elder financial abuse are often family members and other people who are known to the victims. The victims don't report the abuse because they want to protect the perpetrators. Elder law attorneys help people who want to install safeguards to protect their resources.

CONCLUSION There are certain eventualities that you may face as you get older. Elder law attorneys assist people who want to prepare for them. If you arrange for a consultation with a licensed elder law attorney, you can learn the facts and take steps to protect yourself.

REFERENCES Genworth Financial Alzheimer's Association

What Is an Elder Law Attorney?


About the Author Paul A. Kraft Paul Kraft is Co-Founder and the senior Principal of Frank & Kraft, one of the leading law firms in Indiana in the area of estate planning as well as business and tax planning. Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work. In addition to his practice, Mr. Kraft has lectured extensively in the areas of living trust planning, Medicaid planning, and presenting public and private seminars on the importance of proper estate planning. He has also authored various articles on estate planning and is a contributing author of LEGACY: Plan, Protect, and Preserve Your Estate–Practical Answers from America’s Foremost Estate Planning Attorneys. Mr. Kraft is a co-founder of the Indiana Network of Estate Planning Professionals, a charter member of the AmericanAcademy of Estate Planning Attorneys and a founding member of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys. He is also a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association, including the Taxation, Business Law and Estate Planning sections; the Indiana State Bar Association, including the section on Taxation Law; the Indiana CPA Society; and the Estate Planning Council of Indianapolis. Mr. Kraft is admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of Indiana, U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Tax Court.

Frank & Kraft A Professional Corporation Attorneys at Law 135 N. Pennsylvania Street Suite 1100 Indianapolis, IN46204-2485 Phone: (317) 684-1100 Fax: (317) 684-6111

What Is an Elder Law Attorney?


What is an Elder Law Attorney?  

A look at a few of the issues that elder law attorneys deal with on a day - to - day basis.