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Practice Areas - FAQ

Elder Law 

What is Elder Law?

Unlike other areas of law, Elder Law focuses more on the unique needs of the elderly population as opposed to a particular type of law.  These needs can range from estate planning, to planning for long term care, to selling real estate, to filing for disability and Medicaid benefits.  It really is a practice of law that focuses more on the needs of the elderly person, whatever they may be, and having the patience and empathy to work with those who may be more frail and vulnerable than a younger client.

What is a Geriatric Care Manager?

A Geriatric Care Manager (GCM) is a trained professional, usually a social worker or nurse, who can perform an assessment to determine the accommodations an elderly person may need.  Many times, there is conflict in the family about how to accommodate an elderly parent or grandparent simply because the family is unaware of what the person may need and what options are available to accommodate their needs.  A GCM can be a valuable resource in addressing that conflict and infusing a sense of stability and understanding to an otherwise overwhelming situation.  GCMs can also help families select an appropriate care facility if the elderly person can no longer live in their own home as well as assist in identifying and applying for benefits such as Medicaid.  To learn more about what a GCM does and to locate one in your area, you can contact the Aging Life Care Association by Click here.

 

Special Needs Trusts

What is a Special Needs Trust?

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a trust that can be set up for the benefit of a disabled person without jeopardizing  "means Tested" government benefits. As such, a SNT is intended to supplement, not supplant (take the place of) government benefits.  First-Party SNTs are required to have a pay-back provision in favor of Medicaid upon the death of the disabled person for whom the trust was established.

What is a Supplemental Benefits Trust?

A Supplemental Benefits Trust (SBT) is like a Special Needs Trust (SNT) insofar as it is set up for the benefit of a disabled person without jeopardizing  "means Tested" government benefits. Also like a SNT, a SBT is intended to supplement, not supplant (take the place of) government benefits.  However, unlike a SNT, a SBT is set up using money from third-parties, like an inheritance from a parent or grandparent, and not from money owned by the disable person. Because the money was never owned by the disabled person for whom the SBT was established, there is no requirement for a Medicaid pay-back provision like you have for a SNT.

 

Real Estate Closing

Why do I need title insurance when I buy a home? 

Title insurance is very important when you purchase a home since that insures the fact that your title is good and marketable.  In other words, you will not have a problem selling it die to any defects in the chain of title that may have existed prior to you owning the home.  A few weeks after you close, you should get your “owner's” title insurance policy from the title company that handled the closing that should be kept in a safe and preferably fireproof place so it is available when you go to sell your home.

Must I use a realtor when I sell my home?

No, you are not required to use a realtor when you sell your home, but in many instances,  it is advisable to use an experienced realtor to help guide you through the process.  However, if you are willing to do the things a realtor would otherwise do, and you feel you can market the property on your own, then you can certainly sell your house on your own.  You would need an attorney, however, to draft the deed and other legal title documents, so for that reason, it would be wise to engage that attorney from the outset of your sale.  Your attorney can also help draft and negotiate the Contract of Sale.  Our law firm represents many people who sell their homes on their own.

 

Estate Planning 

What happens if I die without a will?

The obvious problem if you die without a will is that your assets will be distributed according to state law and in a way you may not agree with.  Not having a will also leaves open the question of who will have custody of your children (i.e., who will serve as their guardian while they are minors) and who will manage the many your children may inherit (i.e., who will serve as trustee).  Equally important is the fact that without a will, your minor children will get their inheritance outright at age 18 and for many teenagers, inheriting what could amount to several hundred thousand dollars may not be a good idea!      

Do I need to have a Power of Attorney? 

Yes, everyone should have a Power of Attorney in case you become disabled and can no longer act on your own.  People often think about what happens when they die, but they rarely focus on what would happen if they lost the mental capacity to manage their own affairs.  A General Durable Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person to act in your place relative to your finances in the event you can no longer do so.

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