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A Guide to the Benefits of an Elder Law Attorney to Seniors and Their Families
In elder law, a certified elder law attorney (CELA) represents aging adults and their families in legal matters. Elder law encompasses a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person. Issues related to guardianship, retirement, health care including advance directives, long-term care planning, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and other relevant matters to aging all fall under the umbrella of elder law.
An older family member who legally prepares for their aging process helps their family members by addressing day-to-day issues that affect their actual care through proper legal documentation should the senior become incapacitated. Seniors often falsely assume that a close family member, including a spouse, will automatically be able to make decisions on their behalf if something goes wrong with their finances or health. Postponing legal document preparation through an elder attorney generally winds up being more problematic and expensive to a senior’s estate and wellness.
Many seniors find making legal preparations uncomfortable at first, as the task forces them to confront and assess their mortality. Further, into the process, many aging adults experience relief, having removed the fear of the unknown of aging to the best of their ability. Legal preparation can keep a senior from health or financial ruin if they become incapable of making informed decisions regarding these matters. In the absence of legal documents, their family is left with the expensive and time-consuming process of petitioning the courts for legal authority to act on their loved one’s behalf – referred to as establishing a guardianship. By planning early and making sure the correct legal documents are prepared stress on the senior and the senior’s loved ones are greatly reduced.
Personal choices regarding end-of-life care and the disposition of assets and property outlined in legal documentation guarantees that your wishes will be respected by law. This documentation is especially important for seniors when a family member might seek control over the process, whether moral or self-serving, to follow their whims when handling your well-being when you are most vulnerable. Besides adhering to your expressed wishes, having your choices documented relieves family members from guessing what you want.
When preparing for your aging process, seek out a well-regarded attorney who specializes in elder law. While many general practice attorneys may have some experience with elder law topics, regulations are ever-changing and complex. It is best to find an attorney who specializes in elder law so that you get the best and most up-to-date advice.
Proactively address your aging process with a qualified elder attorney to make sure your wishes are carried out now, and in the future, regardless of what happens with your health. Both you and your loved ones will garner invaluable peace of mind knowing that your wishes are known and legally documented. If you’d like to discuss your particular situation, please contact our Sherwood or Searcy office at 501-834-2070 to schedule a consultation. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.