Elder Law Matters in Washington: Even If You are Not Elderly
ELDER LAW MATTERS
(EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT ELDERLY)
Elder Law Is Something that Is Much Easier
to Deal With If You Take the Time to Plan Ahead
Washington Estate Planning Attorney
Byrd Garre tt PLLC| Elder Law Matters (Even if You Are Not Elderly) 2
A person reaches the age of 65 every 8.5 seconds in the United States. Because of increased lifespans, better medical care, and the aging baby boomer generation, America as a whole is becoming an older country. More and more, elderly Americans are encountering a host of legal issues commonly grouped together under the term “elder law.” To those who haven’t heard the term before, elder law is often a misunderstood concept. To begin with, elder law does not refer to a single legal issue or topic, but rather to a collection of topics that most commonly affect senior citizens and the elderly.
Yet even though these issues are most commonly encountered by older people, younger people are also regularly affected by them. Even if younger people are much less likely to experience problems such as, for example, incapacitation due to a medical situation, more and more of them have elderly relatives or family members who have to face elder law issues. ELDERLY, NON-ELDERLY, AND THE LAW
The reason elder law attorneys focus on particular topics is because seniors are often the ones most affected by these areas. For example, everyone experiences a certain degree of physical or mental decline as they age. Elderly people have to be prepared to transfer some or all of their decision-making abilities to others if they experience significant health declines.
Yet these declines and abilities are not limited to seniors. Younger people can experience similar declines or losses of capacity. For example, people involved in serious accidents who have not addressed incapacity issues will leave their families with a host of legal issues they have to deal with. Had these people created an
More and more, elderly Americans are encountering a host of legal issues commonly grouped together under the term “elder law.”
Byrd Garre tt PLLC| Elder Law Matters (Even if You Are Not Elderly) 3
incapacity plan, their families would’ve been more prepared to deal with the situation.
It’s also important to point out that elder law attorneys, or lawyers who specialize in elder law topics, don’t represent elderly people with every legal issue they have. If, for example, a couple wants to get a divorce, they need to speak to a family law attorney. Even if both partners are over the age of 65, that doesn’t mean an elder law attorney will be able to help them with the divorce. Elder law attorneys deal with issues that most commonly affect people as they age, not with every legal issue that an elderly or aging person could face.
Getting older means facing issues that are often difficult to think about. Will you be prepared for medical emergencies? What if you have to move to a nursing home? Who will take care of your pet if you are no longer able to yourself? What if you face discrimination at your workplace because of your age?
Many of these concerns, such as creating a pet plan to provide for pets after you are gone, can be addressed before the need arises. Others, such as age discrimination lawsuits, are something that require you to take appropriate actions to correct harms you’ve suffered.
Age leaves our bodies less able to deal with problems. If a medical emergency arises an elderly person should have tools in place that will protect his or her interests. For example, having a living will or other type of advance medical directive will let your family and doctors know what you want to happen in various medical situations. You can also create tools, such as powers of attorney or living trusts, that will give other people the ability to manage your financial or personal affairs once you’re no longer able to do so yourself.
Byrd Garre tt PLLC| Elder Law Matters (Even if You Are Not Elderly) 4
Emergencies can also leave others in your life without adequate protections. If you have minor children, for example, your incapacitation will leave them without someone to care for their needs. Creating a plan that names a guardian who will have parenting responsibilities over you child is essential for every parent.
Also, knowing what you can and cannot do when you believe a family member or loved one needs more care or protection than they are getting is important. For example, if you’re worried that a grandparent shouldn’t be driving anymore, elder law lawyers can tell you what your options are.
Though the topic is largely taboo in polite conversation, death is a reality that no one can avoid. Part of elder law includes estate planning. Your estate is the collection of property and legal affairs you leave behind after you die. Everyone has an estate, and everyone already has an estate plan. (All states haves laws that apply to your estate by default if you don’t make your own choices about what you want to happen to your property after you are gone.)
Estate planning is all about acting now to take control over what happens to your estate once you’ve gone. Before you die you can create various types of estate planning tools. These include trusts, a will, medical directives, powers of
Byrd Garre tt PLLC| Elder Law Matters (Even if You Are Not Elderly) 5
attorney, and more. After you die, those tools will control what happens to your property and concerns.
When people die without an estate plan, their families are often left without guidance. Even though your state has laws that determine how your property will pass after you die, no law can ever take the place of creating a personal plan that leaves your family as well off as possible.
PREPARATION, PREVENTION, AND ELDER LAW PROBLEMS
As with many legal issues, elder law is something that is much easier to deal with if you take the time to plan ahead. Many of the problems people have with elder law issues arise because they haven’t taken the time to make adequate preparations. This is true for elderly people, younger people, and relatives who are worried about their loves ones.
If you haven’t thought about elder law issues before, or taken steps to prepare, speaking to an elder law attorney now can often open your eyes to many issues you have not considered. If you are facing a current elder law problem, you absolutely need to speak to an elder law attorney as soon as possible.
Byrd Garre tt PLLC| Elder Law Matters (Even if You Are Not Elderly) 6
FREE Report You Can Download. Just Click the Image
Worried That Your Medicaid Eligibility is in Jeopardy?
Learn How Medicaid Planning Can Help You Retain
Your Medicaid Eligibility
Medicaid is a government funded program that provide financial assistance for seniors that need help paying for healthcare services such as a nursing home. People must meet certain criteria in order to receive Medicaid. In some cases, trying to meet eligibility for Medicaid can leave a person with nothing, often having to deplete their net worth, or give assets away in order to qualify for Medicaid. But with a little Medicaid Planning, you can use this government benefit and still retain your estate.
Want to know more? Download “Set the Stage for Medicaid Eligibility,” a free informative white paper that will show you:
Medicaid Planning 101 How to create guidelines for what should happen if you become disabled How to hang onto your assets and Medicaid Eligibility through smart Medicaid Planning
About Geoffrey Garrett
Geoffrey H. Garrett purchased assets of the law practice of Stanley R. Byrd in 2008. For more than twenty-seven years previously, he pursued two challenging careers simultaneously, as an attorney in an active sole practice and a senior pilot for a major airline, where he achieved the rank of B-747 captain in the international operation. He was honored as his airline’s 2005 Captain of the Year in Seattle. He has been a frequent speaker on the subject of reorganizing troubled airlines, has written significant papers about airline code sharing and fleet restructuring in bankruptcy, and is the co-author with Stanley R. Byrd of Estate Planning Basics in Washington.
Mr. Garrett advises in matters of estate planning and probate, trust administration, guardianship and planning for special needs, elder law and asset protection. He assists owners of small businesses with respect to entity formation, administration and compliance, purchase and sale of businesses and succession planning.
Byrd Garrett PLLC
2150 N. 107th St., #501
Seattle, WA 98133-9009
Phone: (206) 363-0123