How An Elder Law Attorney Can Help You In New Jersey
As we age, legal issues can arise that require specialized legal knowledge. An elder law attorney can provide invaluable help to seniors and their families in dealing with these unique legal needs. Here are some of the key ways an elder law attorney can assist you or your aging loved ones in New Jersey:
Creating comprehensive estate plans is one of the most important services an elder law attorney provides. This can include:
- Wills – A will specifies how you want your assets distributed after your passing. An attorney can draft a customized will to fit your wishes.
- Trusts – Trusts are legal arrangements that allow assets to pass outside of probate court upon death. A lawyer can help set up trusts like living trusts and special needs trusts.
- Powers of attorney – These legal documents authorize someone to handle finances or medical decisions if you become incapacitated.
- Advance healthcare directives – These include living wills and medical powers of attorney to direct end-of-life medical treatment.
- Beneficiary designations – Naming beneficiaries on assets like life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
Proper estate planning with an experienced elder law attorney can help you preserve assets, avoid family disputes, and ensure wishes are honored.
Long-Term Care Planning
Planning for potential long-term care needs is another key service. An attorney can advise you on:
- Medicaid eligibility and asset protection strategies to qualify for coverage.
- Long-term care insurance options, including Partnership policies.
- How to pay for in-home care or assisted living services.
- Nursing home care contracts and rights as a resident.
- Respite care and adult day services to provide caregiver breaks.
The right preparation can prevent depletion of a lifetime’s savings on care costs.
Elder Abuse Prevention
Seniors are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and fraud. An attorney can recommend steps to prevent:
- Financial abuse through tools like special needs trusts, joint bank accounts with trusted relatives, and fraud alerts.
- Physical or mental abuse by screening home care aides, using security systems, or obtaining restraining orders.
- Scams through consumer education, placing do not call alerts, and avoiding joint accounts with non-relatives.
- Neglect or abandonment through regular family visits, care coordination, and monitoring.
Taking preventative measures can help protect aging loved ones.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
When a senior can no longer make sound decisions due to dementia or other disorders, an elder law attorney can help family members obtain legal guardianship or conservatorship. This allows trusted individuals to handle healthcare, living arrangements, finances, and other matters in the best interests of the incapacitated senior.
Medicaid and Benefits Applications
Navigating the complex government benefit system can be extremely difficult. An attorney well-versed in Medicaid can assist with:
- Submitting Medicaid applications and gathering all required documentation.
- Medicaid spend-down strategies to accelerate eligibility.
- Appealing denied claims or insufficient coverage.
- Enrolling in other programs like Medicare Savings Programs or prescription coverage.
This can ensure seniors get all the benefits they deserve.
Special Needs Planning
An elder law attorney can also draft special needs trusts for beneficiaries who receive government disability benefits. These trusts allow inheritance or settlements to be used to enhance quality of life without affecting eligibility for Medicaid, SSI, or other needs-based services.
Housing and Care Options
Seniors face many choices when needing more care such as independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, or in-home care. An attorney can offer guidance on contracts, costs, and regulations to help you select suitable housing and care.
Families often disagree on issues like finances, living situations, inheritance, and care for an aging parent. An elder law attorney can serve as a neutral third party mediator to diffuse family conflict and reach agreeable solutions.
If estranged from your own children, an elder law attorney can help grandparents seeking visitation or custody rights for grandchildren. Or if adult children are preventing you from seeing grandchildren, legal steps may be taken to obtain visitation.
Funeral and Burial Planning
End-of-life legal preparation also includes advice on funeral and burial plans. An attorney can help you set up prepaid funeral arrangements, create burial instructions, and establish funeral trusts.
Selecting an elder law attorney can provide critical legal guidance on this wide range of elder-related matters. Look for an attorney well-versed in senior issues and regulations specific to New Jersey. With proper legal advice, the later years can be navigated more smoothly and family disputes minimized.
About the Law Firm of Benjamin D. Eckman
Benjamin D. Eckman, Esq. specializes in Elder Law & Estate Planning, providing legal assistance to those in their later years and focusing on areas like asset protection, health-care costs planning, and document preparation. He has extensively lectured on these topics and has been involved with senior citizen support groups. Mr. Eckman holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Accounting from Touro College and a law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law, and is associated with multiple bar associations in New York and New Jersey.