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NJ Elder Law
What is an elder law attorney and when is it time to contact one?Â Here are some things to consider:
What is Elder Law?
Elder Law is the legal practice of counseling and representing older persons and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision making, older persons’ legal capacity, the conservation, disposition and administration of older persons’ estates and the implementation of their decisions concerning such matters, giving due consideration to the applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more sophisticated tax expertise.
What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA)?
Any attorney can claim to have a specialty in elder law, but only Certified Elder Law Attorneys have met rigorous criteria and been reviewed favorably by five of their peers. These attorneys have been in practice for a minimum of five years, three of which have been focused on elder law. They have passed the regular bar exam, and a special one focused on elder legal issues. In addition, they must take continuing education courses to keep up with the latest changes in the law as it relates to elder issues.
Why should you consult a CELA?
For advice on estate planning, future planning, Medicare and Medicaid issues, end-of-life issues, choice-of-living-situation issues and planning for special-needs children.
What is an example of something a CELA could help a client with, that someone else might not be aware of?
In some states, if a grown child cared for a parent for at least two years, making institutionalization of that parent unnecessary, and lived in the same home as the parent, then that home may not be taken to pay for the adult’s nursing home costs. This is something of great significance to many families that a non-CELA may not be aware of.
Some tips for people dealing with elder issues:
- Become educated about the situation. Come up with a long-term plan. Educating yourself in the issues will prevent you from being taken advantage of by someone pretending to be an expert, who is not.
- Find an intelligent, qualified adviser, and don’t be afraid to pay him/her for their time.
- Create a health care proxy which designates someone to make health-care decisions for you in case you can’t. The health care proxy can include elements of a living will, dealing with what kind of treatments you do or do not want.
- Sign a durable power of attorney, which allows your spouse to protect your assets. This is the financial equivalent of a health care proxy. It’s better than putting your assets in a joint bank account, and you can specify what kinds of decisions the person can make for you. It is often used to protect the money of one spouse if the other goes to a nursing home.
Posted by: Frank Esposito, Vice President of Expert Home Care.Â New Jerseyâ€™s Expert Home Care provides professional and reliable home health care and companion care for NJ seniors, helping them with their daily living activities since 1984. Please call us toll free at 800-848-2336 when you have elder care related questions or need assistance for a loved one. Get a Free Home Care Assessment (a $375 value!) when you mention this post.