Smith Law, PLLC
Seniors, their families and those with special needs or disabilities must deal with a multitude of issues, including long-term care planning, developing estate and disability plans that include durable powers of attorney for financial and health care matters, issues involving Medicare and Medicaid, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and the administration and management of trusts and/or probate of estates. Therefore, choosing the right attorney is critical.
While typical estate planning includes planning for incapacity during one's lifetime and the distribution of one's assets at death, Elder Law attorneys help their clients develop plans with long-term care in mind. Often a traditional estate plan will include many of the same documents that an Elder Law attorney uses, such as a Will or Trust, a Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters; a Health Care Power of Attorney; and a HIPAA Authorization. Nevertheless, the provisions within those documents may be significantly different. Because Elder Law attorneys focus on long-term care plans and protection of assets, the planning documents often include an irrevocable trust designed specifically for this purpose. Other documents, like the Durable Power of Attorney, may include enhanced powers that allow the agent (attorney-in-fact) to engage in Medicaid and/or Veterans ("VA") Benefits planning.
Adding enhanced provisions to existing planning documents enables the use of additional planning strategies. In addition, Medicaid planning or VA benefits planning necessitates that the agent to have specific authority to take certain specific actions, such as the authority to establish and fund an irrevocable trust, or the authority to file a Medicaid application, or to prepare a VA pension application. The grant of authority must be clearly provided within the documents; yet, these powers are not normally found in general estate-planning documents.