Elder Law

Elder law is a specialty area of practice for an attorney. This area of practice includes not only the preparation of the traditional estate planning documents, but many other issues that affect our seniors, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran=s Benefits, and long term care. Caring for our loved ones as they age is difficult for many families and the best decision can be made after exploring all available options. Due to the many changes in the laws that are affecting our seniors, it is important to seek the advice of an elder law attorney to determine what benefits are available to assist in their care.

It is important to understand what is covered by Medicare Part B and the need for supplemental health insurance. In addition to Medicare Part B, a person may be required to obtain Medicare Part D, and they need to understand the enrollment process. While Medicare may help in paying some of the expenses if a person needs long term care in a nursing home, the rules and requirements may limit the coverage that is available. An understanding of their limitations will help in making long term care decisions.

If a person transitions to an assisted living facility, and they meet the Veteran=s requirements, they may be eligible for assistance from the Veteran=s Aid and Attendance program to help pay for their care in the facility. This benefit will allow a Veteran, or a spouse of a Veteran, to continue to reside in the community with assistance with their medical costs. The eligibility requirements should be discussed with an elder law attorney to determine whether this benefit will provide the care that is needed.

Medicaid, a government benefit, may provide assistance with the costs of nursing home care. This benefit, however, has eligibility requirements and the family of a loved one in a nursing home should discuss these requirements with an attorney knowledgeable of the Medicaid laws.

Other long term care options, such as long term care insurance, hospice, and the Michigan Mi-Choice Waiver program, are additional options for caring for a loved one. A person wishing to stay in their home will want to discuss all of these options with not only their medical care provider, but also an elder law attorney, to determine if they would qualify for any of these benefits.

Sharon A. Burgess, Elian E. H. Fichtner, and Danelle E. Harrington practice in the areas of probate/estate planning, long term care planning and elder law, and business and real estate transactions at SMITH BOVILL, P.C. Their articles are intended to introduce various issues arising within this field of practice and are not intended to replace individual legal advice. If you have questions, please contact Sharon, Elian, or Danelle at one of the firm’s two convenient office locations in Frankenmuth and Saginaw.

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