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What is Elder Law?
How do I get quality long-term care for my spouse or parent?
How can I protect my home from Medicaid and nursing home bills?
What kind of advance planning can I do?
Are your Medicaid-related asset protection strategies really “legal and ethical?”
If you can really do this, how come I have never heard about this before?
How do you calculate my fees?
Is the initial telephone call and first appointment free?
Can you help me?
What do I bring to the first meeting?
What happens to my plan if the law changes?
What happens if my situation has changed?
Elder Law is a newer but growing practice area in which lawyers help their clients protect assets against the high costs of long-term health care. The Elder Law attorney works with clients and their loved ones to develop a plan that will both protect their assets and dispose of the client’s assets upon their demise, with a minimum of taxes and other problems. The goal of the Elder Law attorneys at Jones Elder Law (“JEL”) is to allow our clients to maintain their dignity, independence and standard of living throughout their entire life. We address long-term care and estate planning needs of each individual based on his or her unique situation.
Our clients come to us from all walks of life and include seniors themselves as well as the loved ones that are caring for them or are concerned about them. No matter who it is or where they are from, they all want to ensure that they or their loved one has the best possible long-term care. Unfortunately, the cost of such care can be overwhelming. Many seniors have worked their entire lives providing for their loved ones only to realize that long term-care is simply unaffordable. The best strategy for long-term care depends on the health of your loved one, whether they need care today or in the future, their financial resources, and other factors. As your elder law attorney, JEL is uniquely qualified to provide you with solutions.
Whether your questions concern protecting your home, getting in-home care or finding a quality nursing home, JEL is here to assist you every step of the way. One of the greatest gifts you and your family can have is the peace of mind associated with knowing that you have a plan in place to provide your loved one with the care they need and deserve.
Medicaid contains provisions that allow you to exclude your primary home. However, that is not the end of the story. There are pitfalls within the Medicaid rules, such as the Medicaid estate recovery provisions, that can still cause you to lose your home. Additionally, should you need to sell your home for any reason, the proceeds from the sale of your home would not be excludible for Medicaid purposes. Thus, even though you initially might have been able to exclude your home from Medicaid eligibility determination, if you later sell it, the proceeds from the sale may well prevent you from qualifying for Medicaid benefits until those proceeds have been spent on your long-term care needs. Merely using Medicaid’s exclusion rule for primary residences may not be sufficient to truly protect your family home. The Elder Law attorneys at JEL can help develop a complete plan for protecting your family home no matter what your long-term care or financial needs.
If you take away one thing from the information on this website, it should be that the sooner you select your counsel and start planning the better off you will be. Too often, clients come to us in crisis mode in which their loved ones are going to a nursing home or long-term care facility within days. In those instances, while we can still help, we generally will not be able to achieve the same level of protection when compared to clients that plan well in advance.
Additionally, the Deficit Reduction Act (“DRA”) has significantly tightened the rules and regulations surrounding the transfer of assets. Some states, such as Illinois, have not yet adopted the DRA. Residents of states that have not yet adopted DRA have additional flexibilities in planning. As a general rule, the earlier a client comes to JEL, the greater percentage of their assets we are going to be able to help them protect. And, accordingly, the greater control the client will have in the disposition of their assets.
While advanced planning is always preferable, it is never too late to seek help, even if you or a loved one has already entered a nursing home. As elder law attorneys, we can help make sure you or your loved one enters a quality nursing home and implement a plan to pay the nursing home bills while still protecting some assets.
The Elder Law attorneys at JEL are not trying to trick or deceive the Medicaid caseworker. In fact, just the opposite is true. Our attorneys will attempt to make very clear to the caseworker the nature of the transactions that have taken place. The more straightforward and clear we make the explanation of the transactions, the greater the likelihood that the caseworker will approve the Medicaid eligibility. The Elder Law attorneys at JEL recognize their client’s dual goals of protecting their assets while still achieving Medicaid eligibility.
The strategies used by JEL Elder Law attorneys are based upon the language in the Federal and State Medicaid rules as well as certain fair hearing rulings and court rulings. Where necessary, we will provide the rule of law or court case that justifies the planning strategy that has been employed. In some instances, a caseworker will not be authorized to approve some of the more sophisticated planning strategies. In those instances, we will follow through with the application at the fair hearing and appellate process.
Medicaid is a maze of rules and regulations that is not easy to navigate. Both Federal law and state law apply to the Medicaid application and eligibility, adding another layer of complication to the process. Most lawyers that do not specialize in Elder Law do not know the subtle nuances of Medicaid law. Many folks have heard bits and pieces about what assets Medicaid can or cannot take. However, successful outcomes in this area of the law depend upon the mastery of many details.
All of our Elder Law services are handled using a flat fee system based upon the stage at which you conduct your planning. We also offer certain specific services on a similar flat fee system. The fee we quote you is due at the inception of our relationship and will cover all of the expenses and work related to the representation we have discussed. If you choose, you can pay the flat fee with your credit card to make the process as easy as possible.
We have found that the flat fee system actually results in a better experience for the client. After paying the flat fee, the client does not receive a bill. There is never a bill for a phone call or responding to a client email. Yet we still promise to return all your calls and or emails within a twenty-four (24) hour period. The flat fee system frees the client to ask all the questions and raise all the concerns they have. There is also no charge for faxes, copies, filing fees and other miscellaneous items that you find with many other attorneys. Our clients have told us they enjoy greater peace of mind knowing there are no “hidden costs” they will have to pay later for a plan that protects their assets and provides for adequate long-term care.
Absolutely! We will be happy to take your phone calls and meet with you in person to discuss your situation and how we might be able to assist you with your planning and long-term care needs. After that initial phone call and meeting, we will provide you with information regarding how we think we can help you and what it will cost to engage our services. At that point you may choose to go forward with JEL or not. If you choose not to have us represent you, then you will owe us nothing.
During our initial phone calls and meetings we delve into the pertinent information surrounding your assets, liabilities, income and expenses. We also discuss your health and any genetic health issues that may affect your family. From this information we are able to develop an understanding of what we might be able to do to meet your asset protection and long-term care needs. We will clearly communicate whether or not we can help you achieve your goals and how we would go about achieving those goals.
What you bring to the first meeting is entirely up to you. We have clients who bring boxes full of documents and information, and we have clients who walk in with virtually nothing. The more detail that you are able to provide us, the more accurate our initial discussions of your potential plan will be. To help you we have developed an initial meeting questionnaire that covers the types of information we will be considering in developing your plan.
JEL attorneys keep abreast of all major changes in both Federal and State law. You can view upcoming seminars and articles about changes to the law on this website. If you hear about a new change to the law that might impact your situation, we urge you to contact us and schedule a follow-up meeting to review your case at a discounted fee. Also, as a matter of course, we recommend that all of our clients schedule regular follow-up meetings to review their plan and current situation. We offer a discounted fee for these periodic reviews.
If your needs or family situation has changed, you should notify us immediately. While the plan we develop for you will seek to take into account as wide a range of circumstances as possible, no plan can account for all of life’s twists and turns. The same benefits to planning early apply to addressing changes in your circumstances—the sooner you contact us, the better.