As a society when we hear the term “elder abuse” we often think of physical abuse or neglect, which is a medical way of thinking. As a financial professional you may think of “elder abuse” as financial abuse or wrongdoing.
Put yourself in your client’s place. Here are 3 crucial questions they need to ask you as a financial professional:
• What information do I need to age in place?
• What if I have special circumstances that I want to be considered in my estate planning?
• What do I need to include in my planning if I become incapacitated while working with you?
These are the 12 key areas of practice for Elder Law:
1. Health and Personal Care Planning, including giving advice regarding, and preparing, advance medical directives (medical powers of attorney, living wills, and health care declarations) and counseling older persons, individuals with supplemental/special needs, attorneys-in-fact, and families about life care, medical and life-sustaining choices, and related personal life choices.
2. Pre-Mortem Legal Planning, including giving advice and preparing documents regarding wills, trusts, durable general or financial powers of attorney, real estate, gifting, and the financial and income, estate and gift tax implications of any proposed action.
3. Fiduciary Representation, including seeking the appointment of, giving advice to, representing, or serving as executor, personal representative, attorney-in-fact, trustee, guardian, conservator, representative payee, or other formal or informal fiduciary.
4. Legal Capacity Counseling, including advising how capacity is determined and the level of capacity required for various legal activities, and representing those who are or may be the subject of guardianship/conservatorship proceedings or other protective arrangements.
5. Public Benefits Advice, including planning for and assisting in obtaining Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Veterans benefits and housing and food programs.
6. Special Needs Counseling, including the planning, drafting and administration of special/supplemental needs trusts, housing, employment, education and related issues.
7. Advice on Insurance Matters, including analyzing and explaining the types of insurance available, such as health, life, long term care, home care, COBRA, medigap, long term disability, dread disease, prescription coverage, and burial/funeral policies.
8. Resident Rights Advocacy, including advising patients and residents of hospitals, nursing facilities, continuing care retirement communities, assisted living facilities, adult care facilities, and those cared for in their homes of their rights and appropriate remedies in matters such as admission, transfer and discharge policies, quality of care, and related issues.
9. Housing Counseling, including reviewing the alternatives available and their financing such as: renovation loan programs, life care contracts, home equity conversion, reverse and other mortgage options.
10. Employment and Retirement Advice, including pensions, retiree health benefits, unemployment benefits, and other benefits.
11. Counseling with regard to age and/or disability discrimination in employment, housing and related areas.
12. Litigation and Administrative Advocacy in connection with any of the above matters, including will contests, contested capacity issues, elder abuse (including financial or consumer fraud), fiduciary administration, public benefits, nursing home torts, and discrimination.
Becoming aware of planning issues in each of these 12 areas of practice empowers you so that you better identify impacts of your planning in this demanding multi-disciplinary area.
This list makes it clear for you that elder law planning goes far beyond Medicaid planning to housing options, guardianship, property and health care management, abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly, as well estate planning and retirement planning.
Good practice management of each of the above items will help you avoid a failure of incapacity planning for your client which will help them avoid abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation as they age.