Elder Law Lawyer Helping Residents in New Bedford, Easton & Hyannis
As our society ages, more individuals will face unique challenges regarding their estates, the cost of long-term care, and other financial concerns. The practice of elder law, which encompasses estate planning, long-term care planning, guardianships, and other aspects of law, is dedicated to helping elders and their loved ones meet these challenges. The elder law practice at Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. is led by our partners Daniel Surprenant and Michelle Beneski, both of whom are certified in elder law (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation.
Whether you are an independent single senior or you depend on a supportive network of family and friends, we know that dealing with the challenges of aging can be overwhelming. When you partner with us, we will take the time to get to know you, understand your circumstances and work closely with you to protect your interests.
Estate Planning for Elders
Regardless of your family background or financial status, having an estate plan is critically important as you age. While each person has unique needs, some essential estate planning documents for elders include:
- Last Will and Testament (will)
- Durable power of attorney
- Healthcare proxy
- Living will
- Revocable living trust
- Irrevocable trust
No matter your situation, a well-conceived estate plans starts by putting a will in place. A will establishes how your assets will be managed and distributed after you die. The distribution plan can be simple (leaving everything to a single individual) or more complex (dividing assets among family members and charities). Additionally, creating a durable power of attorney allows you to designate a trusted person to manage your personal and business affairs if you become incapacitated, while a healthcare proxy designates someone to act as your agent to coordinate your medical care when you are unable to communicate your preferences.
Another form of an advance medical directive is a Living Will, which is often confused with a Last Will and Testament. A Living Will, though not legally binding, declares the type of end of life care you wish to receive or have withheld if you are terminally ill or become incapacitated. While thinking about becoming incapacitated is never easy, incapacity planning is the responsible way to protect your assets. Without these documents in place, loved ones or close associates will need to ask the court to act as your power of attorney or healthcare agent.
Finally, two other essential estate planning documents are revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts. The main difference between the two is that a revocable living trust allows you to continue managing your property during your lifetime and to dissolve the trust if you prefer, while an irrevocable trust cannot be modified during your lifetime. At Surprenant & Beneski P.C., we work with our elder law clients to establish estate plans so that they will have peace of mind in their golden years.
One of the most pressing issues facing elders and their loved ones is the escalating cost of long-term care. Our experienced elder law attorneys will work closely with you to explore all of your options for obtaining the medical care you need while protecting your assets.
Although many believe that Medicare will cover the cost of nursing home care, this federal program only pays for limited services on a short-term basis. Medicare is also not an option for those who need non-skilled care at home to assist with daily tasks such as dressing, and light housekeeping.
Medicaid, the joint federal-state program referred to as MassHealth, is means-tested and may elders have assets that exceed the eligibility threshold. Our elder law attorneys will work with you to help you qualify for MassHealth by utilizing estate planning strategies such as spousal income and asset transfers or establishing an irrevocable Medicaid Trust.
Finally, we will also help you determine if long-term care insurance is a viable option to cover the costs of personal and custodial care at home or in an assisted living facility or nursing home. It is important to note that premiums can be costly and you may not qualify if you have pre-existing medical conditions. Ultimately, long-term care planning can help to structure your wealth in a way to pay for future medical costs, whether through public or private means.
Guardianships / Conservatorships
Guardianships are another component of eldercare which provide continued care of individual or his/her estate in the event of incapacity. In Massachusetts, guardianships can be established for a minor without a guardian or for an adult who no longer has the capacity. A conservatorship can also be established over an incapacitated person’s estate so that all matters are properly managed.
Call Our Southern Massachusetts Elder Law Attorneys
When you consult Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., you have the opportunity to work with 2 of the 24 CELA attorneys in Massachusetts. Well-versed in the eligibility requirements for Medicare and MassHealth, we are highly regarded for addressing our clients concerns with first-rate representation and caring, personal service. Please contact our office today to speak with our experienced elder law attorneys.