A common misconception is that elder law attorneys are used primarily by senior citizens. Although elder law attorneys can assist with crisis Medicaid planning and present eligibility for Veterans’ Benefits, they can also help younger individuals make a plan in advance.
All too often families call on elder law attorneys when the cost of housing or long-term care for an older relative becomes a burden, or when the rights of a nursing home resident are compromised. As part of April’s National Financial Literacy Month, our elder law attorneys in Chapel Hill prepared a list of three important reasons why it is just as important for non-seniors to create a financial plan for the future with an elder law or estate planning attorney:
1. Who will manage your finances if you are unable to? Establish powers of attorney now so that you can designate individuals you trust with handling your finances, real estate, or other personal matters. Should you become incapacitated without a power of attorney, an expensive and time-consuming incompetency and guardianship proceeding may be required.
2. Will you be eligible for benefits most seniors rely on? Income and assets affect eligibility for senior or disabled benefit programs. Planning now will help you structure assets in such a way that you will still retain your assets, but at the same time remain qualified for Medicaid and other benefits. You can also explore trust planning options, like special needs trusts and Medicaid Trusts, which further protect finances available in senior years.
3. Who will make important healthcare decisions on your behalf? A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint another person with the authority to make decisions about your medical care. A Living Will states your wishes about end-of-life care.
Making a plan well in advance of senior years allows individuals to preserve their independence, financial and otherwise, as long as possible. Long-term planning options may be limited if explored at the last minute. According to the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, in 2012 the state ranked #9 in the nation with the highest number of residents over the age of 60. (North Carolina is 11th in the nation with a population older than 85.) Create a simple plan now with a North Carolina elder law attorney before complicated issues arise.