Understanding the details of long-term care planning and asset protection can be an emotional, and often confusing, process.
Having knowledgeable counsel on your side can help you and your loved ones navigate the legalities of this natural life progression.
Elder law is a relatively new practice area in the legal profession. The rapid increase in size of the elderly population created a need for assistance in a wide variety of legal practice areas. Attorneys who focus their practice on assisting the elderly or disabled persons, on protecting the individual, their families, and preserving their property/affairs are often referred to as Elder Law attorneys.
Among other areas of representation, Elder Law can include estate planning, health care planning, planning for incapacity or mental incompetence, preparing applications for or the management of the receipt of benefits, guardianship, and asset preservation.
Abraham & Bauer, LLC is an independent firm with over 25 years of experience in Elder Law and a commitment to creating the best outcome for our clients in any situation.
Some of the services Abraham & Bauer LLC provide include:
- Preparation of estate planning documents such as powers of attorney, Advanced Health Care Directives, wills, trusts, and deeds.
- Assessment of a family’s financial situation, consolidation of assets, income-producing annuities, liquidation of certain investments, changing ownership or titling of investments, insurance products, or other property.
- Compiling required documentation to present for a Medicaid or other government assistance program, auditing financial records to ensure eligibility for such programs, and counseling on how to maintain proper records and properly spending down with an asset preservation plan.
- Enhancement of financial resources through actions such as a reverse mortgage or an equity loan, where appropriate.
- Negotiations with a nursing home regarding billing or back payments owed, the processing of required medical reports and forms, securing admission to a nursing home or transfer from one facility to another, and insuring that the facility is paid and the client received the requisite care.
- Longstanding relationships with professionals in other ancillary fields such as financial advisors, accountants, real estate agents, other attorneys, and insurance agents – all of whom specialize in working with the elderly or disabled.
Do Elder Law attorneys only assist the elderly?
No. Disability and death are age nondiscriminatory. These events can impact anyone regardless of their age. However, more elderly individuals become disabled than any other segment of society. Mr. Abraham’s clients range in age from their 20s to well into their 90s.
As a society, do we preplan?
No! Nationally only about 50% of all adults preplan for disability or death by signing a Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive, and Last Will & Testament.
What happens in Maryland if the individual fails to preplan and dies or becomes disabled?
If the individual dies without a Will, their financial affairs may be subject to the laws of intestacy. Should that occur, Maryland’s laws and the cases interpreting them make all of the decisions such as who inherits, what they inherit, who serves as the Personal Representative (executor), etc.
Dying intestate can result in outcomes that do not match a person’s wishes. An example could be their spouse not inheriting all probate assets.
Individuals who fail to preplan and become disabled may also face a formal, involuntary court proceeding called a guardianship.
What is a Guardian of Person or Property?
Guardians of the Person and Property are appointed by the Circuit Court to assist someone who could not otherwise manage their medical care or financial interests.
A Guardian of Property is responsible for managing the disabled’s property and affairs. This can include collecting income, paying bills, applying for benefits, etc.
A Guardian of Person is responsible for managing the disabled’s person’s medical care. This can include determining where they live, receive care and medicine, and whether treatment they are receiving is to be continued or is withheld, etc.
Both Guardians MUST file annual reports with the Court detailing the care their ward received and any changes in their finances. When the disabled person dies or recovers from the disability a Petition to Terminate must be filed.
What is Medical Assistance (“Medicaid”)?
Medicaid is a program which partially offsets the cost of long term care in a nursing home for those individuals who can no longer afford the cost of their care and who qualify for these benefits.
As opposed to Medicare which is a Federal social medical insurance program, Medicaid is a needs-based, means-tested social welfare program which is funded federally with contribution also coming from state and local governments.
Who should develop a plan to preserve assets in a Medicaid setting?
Due to the strict and strictly enforced eligibility requirements, these plans must be carefully developed and implemented. As a result, an experienced Elder Law attorney should always be consulted.
Disclaimer – This overview is provided for general information relevant for planning undertaken in Maryland only. None of the information within should be relied upon. Statutes, regulations, and the cases interpreting them are constantly changing. Consult an attorney before taking any action. Your reliance on or use of this information does not create an attorney/client relationship or privilege between you and the law firm and its employees, or their heirs, personal representatives, successors, or assigns.
- The Last Step of Your Estate PlanningIt does not matter how much forethought you put into distributing your assets, or how expensive it was to draft your will or trust if the people bound by these documents do not know what they contain, or potentially that they even exist.
- What is Elder Law?This field of law secures proper care and future security for the growing elderly population. More importantly, it is an opportunity to embrace the idea of pre-crisis management and planning for the future.
- Aging & Needing Assistance with Activities of Daily LivingAs we age, we often need assistance with ADLs. Occasionally our care needs are so great that a family member becomes the primary caregiver.
- Using Immediate Annuities to “Spend Down” for MedicaidTo qualify for Medicaid, a Federal program wherein the government pays a portion if not all of an elderly patient’s long-term care costs, an applicant cannot own more than $2,500 in countable assets.
- Statistics & Risks of Elder AbuseAccording to the National Council on Aging, approximately 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, and of the nearly 5 million cases each year, only 7% are ever even reported to the police.
- Elder Abuse Prevention & Prosecution ActA new federal law passed in October 2017 is aimed at combating Elder Abuse through a more thorough understanding of the issue and prosecution of the perpetrators.
- Recognizing Elder Abuse: Real Threats to SeniorsElder abuse is defined as “any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver to an elder person that causes personal, financial, or physical harm or serious risk of harm.”
- Hospice Care—Choosing WiselyAmong its many attributes, Baltimore is one of the nation’s leaders in medicine. This reputation for high-quality health care extends to Baltimore’s hospice care providers as well. However, as detailed by a recent series of Washington Post articles, that experience is not universal.
- The Highs & Lows of the Home Health Care SectorAs baby boomers approach and live past retirement age it is no surprise that significant demands will be placed on every industry associated with caring for the elderly.
- More Americans are aging in place. Can towns and cities adapt?The age of the older American homeowner is upon us. The question is: Will communities be ready for the challenges that come with that?