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The dependence of older persons make them more vulnerable. Family members may need to take action to protect parents and other older loved ones from their own bad decisions or financial abuse by others.

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Elder Law Attorneys Help the Elderly

Many elderly persons in southern Illinois rely on their children, family members, friends or neighbors to help them. This dependence makes an older person more vulnerable to financial and other forms of abuse.  Family members may need to take action to protect parents or other loved ones from making bad decisions or from being taken advantage of.

Although we wouldn’t think a child could take advantage of his or her parents, there is no way to predict or anticipate what a child or other caregiver will do if he or she is desperate for money or feels entitled to an early inheritance. Consider the following:

The health of Barry’s parents was declining and living alone at home was becoming a concern.  Their daughter Sherry wanted to look into assisted living for them.  Barry immediately became upset at Sherry for wanting to spend their money. He packed up his parents and brought them to his home.  Being single and working, he was not available to them during the day, but left food and water on the table to sustain them until he returned home in the evening. Sherry lived more than 300 miles from Barry and when she could get to his house to visit; she found her parents' care was not acceptable. They could not remember if they took their medications or if they had even eaten a meal that day. Barry was also draining his parents’ savings account; when confronted about it, he became angry and complained that he needed their money to pay expenses for their care. Sherry felt her brother's care of their parents was abusive, but Barry argued that he was providing a good home for his parents and that Sherry was doing nothing to help with the care of their parents. Clearly, this family needs a professional advisor to help them understand and clarify the issues concerning the care of the parents.

Making legal decisions about property, finances, powers of attorney, and final wishes are important tasks to complete for the final years of life. Having legal documentation for a will, for medical treatment and for the person designated to be responsible for parents' welfare can avoid family disputes, financial abuse, and help to conserve assets that are needed for care.

Elder law attorneys specialize in legal issues affecting the elderly. Many, but not all, are knowledgeable about Medicare and Medicaid programs. They work with the elderly in assisting them and their families with all aspects of estate planning and implementing necessary legal documents for the final years of life. Some elder law attorneys help individuals to apply for and possibly accelerate coverage from Medicaid; they also can help with disputes with Medicaid.  A few elder law attorneys also can help with applications for benefits from the Veterans’ Administration.

Experienced elder law attorneys know that planning for death is only part of the planning process.  They ask, “what if you don’t die?”  In other words, elder law and elder care attorneys help you deal with the more important part of the planning process: the period between today and your death.  When considering an attorney, you will want to find one who has experience in the area of the law with which you need help.

According to The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys – http://www.naela.org/:

“Ask lots of questions before selecting an elder law attorney. You don't want to end up in the office of an attorney who can't help you. Start with the initial phone call. It is usual to speak only to a secretary, receptionist or office manager during an initial call or before actually meeting with the attorney. If so, ask this person your questions.

“  How long has the attorney been in practice?
• Does his/her practice emphasize a particular area of law?
• How long has he/she been in this field?
• What percentage of his/her practice is devoted to elder law?
• Is there a fee for the first consultation and if so, how much is it?
• Given the nature of your problem, what information should you bring with you to the initial consultation?"

A good way to choose an elder law attorney is by referral from friends, family, clergy or other associations.  Before you meet for your initial consultation, prepare the items you want discussed and taken care of.  Bring pertinent documents and questions. Be sure you get clear answers and that you understand what your attorney is proposing.

Two-way communication is the best way your attorney can understand your needs and concerns. Does the attorney listen to what you say, and appear to really care about your concerns? If not, find another attorney. Most elder law attorneys sincerely want to help make you or your parent's elder years a well planned for, peaceful experience for all involved.  They want to help your parents get the care they deserve and the governmental benefits to which they are entitled.

This article is to be published in the Southern Business Journal in the February 2010 issue.


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Physical Address
1808 Clark Street, Carterville, Illinois 62918
Phone: 618-985-4529
Toll Free: 800-336-4529

Mailing Address
1808 Clark Street
Carterville, Illinois 62918
Phone: (618) 985-4529