Quite a lot, really:
Elder law in Bucks County is not something that is only meant for senior citizens. Sooner or later, anyone who has a family or who is worried about controlling their health or their financial situation could use the services of an elder law attorney.
A will allows you to designate who will receive your assets after your death. If you die without a will, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania will dictate to whom your assets will pass, which may go against your wishes.
The Bucks County elder law attorney can help you ensure that your will is prepared properly in accordance with the law, and that your assets pass to your beneficiaries. This will take much stress off of your family in what is already a difficult time for them.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY:
While a will allows you to decide who will receive your assets following your death, a power of attorney lets you name an agent to manage your financial and/or medical affairs in the event you become disabled or incapacitated during your life.
Under Pennsylvania law, the individual you designate as your agent can assist you in paying bills, making bank deposits, buying and selling real estate, signing tax returns, making legal claims, and making critical medical decisions in the event you require admission to a hospital or a nursing home.
With the help of an elder law attorney, you can draft a power of attorney that ensures your agent can make all important decisions on your behalf in the event of your disability or incapacity.
A living will deals with end-of-life decision making. If you are mentally incapacitated and are in an end stage medical condition (terminal) or a permanent coma, a living will permits you to tell your doctor whether you want him or her to take heroic or extra ordinary means to prolong your dying process, or whether you want to die naturally.
There are several different types of trusts that an elder wall attorney can help you create. One of the most common is the special needs trust.
These trusts are typically set up to help a disabled or incapacitated person who receives government benefits such as Medicaid or supplemental security income(SSI). The special needs trust ensures that the disabled or incapacitated person can keep their government benefits, which pay for their basic needs such as shelter and food, and use the trust assets to pay for their special needs.
If I require nursing home care, my family and I will lose everything to pay for the nursing home. This is something the Bucks County Elder law attorney hears frequently. It is not true. With proper planning, you do not have to lose your entire life savings to pay for nursing home care.
You can keep your home, a car, term life insurance, a prepaid funeral, and a burial plot. Also, if you are married and your spouse requires admission to a nursing home, you can keep your retirement plans, and 1/2 of the couple’s resources up to a maximum amount this year of approximately $129,000.
Additionally, if your spouse is in a nursing home, you may be able to purchase a spousal annuity with the resources that you would ordinarily have to use to pay the nursing home bill.
Medicaid planning is definitely an area where a qualified elder law attorney can help you save thousands of dollars.
PROBATE and ESTATE ADMINISTRATION:
“Probate” comes from the Latin term for “to prove the will.” Upon your death, the person you have designated in your Will as your Executor, will have to register your Will at the Bucks County Register of Wills Office.
After your Executor has been appointed he or she will have to begin the administration process. This includes identifying and valuing all of your assets, selling your real estate, paying all debts including taxes, and finally making distributions to your beneficiaries.
The administration process is lengthy and complex. A Bucks County Elder law attorney can guide your Executor through each step of the process so that administration of your estate is completed in a timely, competent, and efficient manner.
WHAT IS A QUALIFIED ELDER LAW ATTORNEY?
To determine whether an elder law attorney is qualified, start by determining whether he or she is they are a certified elder law attorney, or CELA. This is a special certification that can be earned by attorneys with at least five years of practice devoted to elder law matters.
CELAs must also take a certification exam, a difficult test that only about 35 percent of attorneys will pass. They must also get recommendations from three other lawyers who can vouch for their reputation as a competent, ethical voice for their clients.
The attorneys at Gummer Elder Law are proud to be a part of this small minority of Pennsylvania lawyers. As one of the few practices handling elder law in Bucks County, we can help you and your family with wills, trusts, estate planning, Medicaid planning and any of the other elder law related issues.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation.