Thanks to advances in healthcare and safety, we are living longer than ever. Unfortunately, such a long lifespan brings unique challenges, particularly in relation to planning for all those extra years. Due to those unique challenges, an area of law has emerged over the past few decades known as elder law. Elder law can be divided into three primary categories — estate planning,long-term care, and guardianships — but also encompasses many subareas of law. This is why it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney.
At E.A. Goodman Law, LLC, we specifically focus our practice on elder law. We understand that everyone is different, with different situations and different expectations. To ensure that you get tailored legal services, we take the time to sit down and get to know you, who you are, what you’ve done, and where you want to be in the future. By treating you as a partner rather than a client, we can provide the highest level of legal service to ensure that you achieve your goals. If you need help with planning your future, please contact our office today for a free consultation. It’s never too early to plan for your future.
Regardless of your background or current status, estate planning should be a central concern when considering your future. Estate planning can be simple or complex depending on your situation. When establishing an estate plan, the core documents can include:
- a last will and testament;
- a durable power of attorney;
- an advance medical directive;
- a living will;
- a revocable living trust; or,
- an irrevocable living trust.
The last will and testament, commonly referred to as a will, is a plan to distribute any assets that you may have at the time of your death. Wills can be very simple – simply leaving everything to a single individual; alternatively, wills can be very complex – dividing assets among charities, family members, friends, etc. No matter your situation, a will should be the bedrock of your estate plan.
A durable power of attorney allows your affairs to be continually managed if you become incapacitated by allowing the nominated person to act on your behalf. Additionally, an advance medical directive, commonly referred to as a healthcare proxy, nominates a person to act on your behalf to ensure you receive the medical treatment you want if you become incapacitated. Similarly, a living will allow you to establish the type of care you wish to receive if you become terminally ill or incapacitated and cannot communicate.
Two other common documents are revocable living trusts and irrevocable living trusts. These trusts allow you to transfer property to the trust and plan for future events such as incapacity and caring for others. The primary difference between the two is that a revocable living trust allows you to continue managing it during your lifetime and to dissolve the trust if you wish, whereas an irrevocable trust cannot be modified during your lifetime – safely locking away the assets in the trust. At E.A. Goodman Law, LLC, we understand the unique benefits that each trust offers and would be honored to work with you to establish an estate plan.
Living longer poses a significant financial issue to most individuals. As you get older, medical costs tend to increase year-over-year. The increasing medical cost often results in many seniors falling into financial difficulty while trying to afford the care they need. Thankfully, by planning ahead you can anticipate these financial shortfalls and plan to avoid them.
Planning for long-term care can be done in many ways, including buying long-term care insurance, obtaining public benefits such as Medicaid, or saving to pay for those future costs. Your specific situation will determine which route is best to take, whether that be through private or public means.
While many have heard of Medicaid, many may not be aware of its importance in long-term care planning. For many Americans, Medicaid will be necessary to meet financial shortfalls in affording their long-term care. Because Medicaid is means tested, applicants must meet certain income and wealth thresholds to qualify. By planning ahead and identifying a potential need for Medicaid, we can structure your wealth in a manner to utilize Medicaid to meet any financial shortfalls later on.
Guardianships are the third prong of elder care and provide for an individual or the estate to continue to be cared for in an event of incapacity. In New Jersey, guardianships may be established over a minor without a guardian or an adult who no longer has the capacity. Establishing a guardianship for your minor children ensures that they are taken care of by the person of your choice in your absence. Additionally, guardianship may be established over an incapacitated person’s estate to ensure all matters are tended to while they are incapacitated.
Morris County and Bergen County Elder Law Attorney
At E.A. Goodman Law, LLC, we have a reputation for providing legal services specifically tailored to each client’s needs. No matter where you are in your life, it’s never too early or too late to plan for your future. Regardless of who you are, we focus on you. Please reach out to our office if you have questions or concerns regarding your estate plan, long-term care plan, or guardianships.