It can be difficult to watch our parents age, especially if they struggle for years with poor health or mental deterioration. Children find themselves in the role of caregivers — sometimes gradually, sometimes suddenly — and concerns about the day to day health and financial well-being of their loved ones become paramount. Caring for parents and worrying about their finances can be challenging, but the sooner a family can speak with an aging parent or relative about their plans for care (and the type of long term care they can afford, if needed), the better. Knowing their wishes will help you advocate on their behalf; ensuring they work under the guidance of estate planning attorneys will eliminate uncertainty when the time comes to divide assets.When Your Family May Need The Services Of Estate Planning AttorneysIf your loved one wrote a will but there is uncertainty about whether it is valid, speaking with an elder law expert can help clarify the next steps. While laws vary from state to state, there are generally four reasons why a document of their final wishes may be considered invalid. Firstly, if it is not signed in accordance with state laws it may be considered invalid. For example, some states require that the testator have two witnesses in the room at the time the will is signed. Another reason a person may wish to consult estate planning attorneys is if a loved one may not have been of sound mind at the time the will was signed. Thirdly, if there is cause to believe a loved one was unduly influenced or pressured to write, change, or forced to sign a will against their wishes, it may be contested. And finally, if there are suspicions the document may be fraudulent — that is, if a person was tricked into signing and it can be proven –certainly contact estate attorneys at the earliest opportunity.How Estate Attorneys Can HelpWhen someone believes a will is incorrect or invalid, they may hire estate attorneys to review the documents and decide on next steps. An attorney can help determine whether there are grounds to dispute the validity of the document, and can advise on the legal process and costs involved. In many cases, the cost of contesting may be prohibitive, or not worth the time and effort. If you have a strong case, estate attorneys can help you file the dispute and represent you by presenting your case in court. It is important to know in advance that the burden of proof will rest upon you. Before you meet with an attorney, make sure you are clear about your reasons for contesting the document and gather your evidence (which may include financial statements, previous wills, letters, or witnesses).Get To Know The Law And Plan Ahead To Minimize Family DisagreementsYou can reduce the stress of what will already be a challenging time for your family when a loved one dies by planning ahead. Help your elderly loved ones with end of life planning while they are of sound mind; while it may seem a delicate topic, it can be an enormous relief for an elderly person to have everything planned so they don’t need to worry. Meeting with estate planning attorneys when your elderly relative is well is a great idea, and will make the process of decision making about the estate much simpler. Avoiding disputes down the road by simple planning makes good sense, and can also help you avoid costly lawsuits later — and in some cases, devastating disagreements that can leave families hurt, angry, disappointed, and unable to mend their relationships after a loss.
Elder law attorneys handle the wide array of legal matters that affect older or disabled people. This includes concerns like care planning, guardianship, retirement, Medicare, taxes, living wills, estate planning, and housing issues among others. This is a new concept to many people, and it’s actually a fairly new category in the legal field. If you’re new to the idea, you might wonder why finding someone to represent your or your loved one is important.Who Are Elder Law Attorneys?They have to be licensed to practice in one or more state, practicing for five years or more, and have finished 45 hours of continuing education in this area during the last three years in order to be certified by the National Elder Law Foundation for this kind of practice. They also have to pass a certificate examination.Do I Really Need One?Elder law attorneys are good for people who need help navigating the extreme complexities of federal taxes, property matters, Medicare/Medicaid, and social security. Your lawyer can help advocate for the best next step, and they can also make sure you’re taking that next step legally. They can also be a compassionate, but not overly emotional, advisor, helping prepare trusts, wills, and plans for end-of-life.How do I Choose the Right Person for My Needs?If you or your loved one has a specific case matter, like age discrimination, disability, mental health issues, social security, or an abuse case, may want to consider hiring someone who has expertise in your area. If you’re looking for more overall service, ask whether or not they’ve had similar clients to you or your loved one. Ask them what outcomes can be expected if you hire them, or how other cases similar to yours have turned out. You should also make sure that they are very familiar with the statutes in your state, which, usually, change all the time. Finally, find out if they are members of any organizations that are specifically related to your needs.How Much Will This Cost Me?Fees can be assessed in many different ways. Ask up front about how much and how often you’ll be billed. Some will expect payment biweekly, others monthly, and still others will ask for payment at the end of the work. Some charge a flat fee, while others will want to be paid by the hour and may also bill for paralegal or research hours. Also, ask about any incidental costs you may be assessed, for things like copies, postage, or court fees.Once you choose one of the available elder law attorneys to represent you or your loved one, make sure you get your arrangement in writing so that your expectations of each other are clearly spelled out. This is important because of the type of work he or she will engage in. You should feel comfortable with the person you’ve chosen to help navigate these difficult waters.