Elder law is an area of legal practice that places an emphasis on those issues that affect our growing aging population. These issues arise from a long life rather than death. The three main divisions of elder law are (1) Estate planning and administration, tax, and trust questions; (2) Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, disability and other long-term care issues; (3) Guardianship, conservatorship and commitment matters, including fiduciary administration. Elder law issues can begin to arise as early as age 50, but it targets those ranging from age 65 to age 85-plus.
Generally, as we age, the quality of our health declines. Health care coverage becomes a significant issue for elders. Two important federal programs provide this often needed health care coverage. Medicare is the federal government program that gives you health care coverage if you are age 65 or older, or under age 65 with certain disabilities, no matter your income. Medicaid is a state and federal program offering health care coverage to people of most ages in certain groups (children and pregnant women, single parents, people with disabilities, and people 65 and over), but generally only to those with low incomes.
As we age, we encounter difficult decisions with matters such as long term care, asset protection, power of attorney and other important issues about our dignity, health, housing, personal autonomy, property and quality of life. It is critical to maintain a dialogue and remain educated about how to manage aging and end-of-life issues as our population ages. I am here to help clients make informed decisions for themselves and their aging loved ones in areas of:
>Care and Comfort During Senior Years
>Current Transfer of Some Assets
>Durable Powers of Attorney
>Inter vivos Trusts
>Long Term Care Insurance
>Pensions & IRA’s
Other modules that can be helpful in addressing elder law issues are a Miller Trust and a Ladybird Deed. A Miller Trust, technically known as a Qualified Income Trust, is only necessary if a Medicaid applicant exceeds the allowable monthly income limit. It is never used for assets. The purpose of this trust is to make an individual eligible for Medicaid long term care benefits by reducing the amount of income that is “counted” for eligibility purposes. Under the law, any income that goes through the trust is not counted.
A “Lady Bird Deed” is a nickname given to an Enhanced Life Estate Deed, which is used to convey property to your heirs outside of probate. This deed is commonly used in Texas because it allows the grantor to transfer property to beneficiaries while retaining a life estate in the property coupled with the power to sell, convey, or mortgage the property without the beneficiaries’ consent. The beneficiary of the deed does not get any rights to the property while the current owner is alive.