Most people are unable to handle the complexity of planning their medical and financial futures on their own. Consulting an elder law attorney, who deals daily with the issues surrounding old age, can be the first step in the advance care planning process. Elder law attorneys can help you create a legal framework to ensure that your medical and financial wishes are fulfilled. Some general functions they perform are:
- Preparing Advance Medical Directives or "living wills" that clearly state what medical treatments you wish, or do not wish to receive if you can't answer for yourself
- Preparing power of attorney documents, identifying the person you trust to make your decisions when you cannot
- Estate planning in the form of last wills and testaments and/ or "living trusts" that direct where your assets will go after your death
- Exploring your qualifications for Medicaid, and if appropriate, applying on your behalf
- Advocating, on your behalf, on disputes from insurance companies either for health insurance, long-term care insurance, or life insurance
- Employment and retirement matters
- Addressing issues of guardianship/conservatorship
- General advice and counsel on issues surrounding aging
You may be able to receive free legal support through federally-funded legal assistance programs.
Many elder law attorneys do not charge for a consultation fee. However, it is important to know up front if there is a fee, and also what the attorney's (and paralegal's) fees are before getting started. It is your right and responsibility to know.