Elder laws vary from state to state. Maryland elder law dictates estate planning and will preparation in Maryland, while Arkansas laws will be different, as will North Dakota laws, and so on. The most important thing you can do when planning your retirement budget, your estate, and your will, is to consult with a financial planner and a lawyer in your state.
If you move to a new state in your retirement, or before your retirement, make sure you have a local, elder law professional update your plans and your wills, in your new location. Even if you donâ€™t move, itâ€™s a good rule of thumb to have your plans reviewed every five years, because laws can change. Change is a fact of life, and itâ€™s the main reason why we plan. Our lives can change dramatically as we age, and we must account for the changes â€“ the good changes, like the ability to travel during our retirements, and the unfortunate changes as well, which usually involve the increasing need of health care.
Preparing to enter a residential home for long-term care can be a sad set of plans to put in place, but they are necessary to make sure you donâ€™t get caught in the loopholes that some laws set in place. Gift-giving, for example, in many states, can negate your eligibility for residential care, if the gift-giving of money or real estate happens too close to the time when you chose residential care. Usually, there is a space of several years that must elapse between gifting and moving into a residential care facility.
A local elder law attorney can acquaint you with the rules in your specific state. Making sure that you appoint a power of attorney to a trusted family member, for both health decisions as well as financial decisions, is also a crucial decision that must be made in a timely manner. By the time we need someone to act as a power of attorney, itâ€™s usually too late to decide whom we would have chosen to take on that role.
The power of attorney is only as powerful as your family membersâ€™ ability to find the paperwork that names them. Your safe deposit box is not a place they can access, if they need to act on your behalf, especially during a sudden turn of events. Making sure the paperwork is available and accessible is the best way to ensure that your wishes are met.
State elder law also comes into play when a person dies without a will. The state law decides how your estate will be distributed, not you. Unless, in your life, you were the state legislator that passed the law, then you wonâ€™t be the one who decides who gets what, if you did not prepare a will. Many of us have family members we would like to see carry on certain heirlooms, or properties, or businesses, and we appreciate the ability to make the decisions dictating how we want our estates distributed.
The state also decides who will be the executor of your will, if you do not name the person yourself. A court usually appoints whoever asks for the post first.
Planning our estates, and our wills, can sometimes be a joyful activity, and not a sad one â€“ we are ensuring the prosperity of the people we love. Planning can also be frustrating, if we are unsure of the local laws and restrictions. An elder law attorneyâ€™s job is always to make sure we are planning our estates in the best way, based on his specific knowledge of local, state elder law.
If you are at a point in your life (say, life-after-50 or late 40â€™s and above) you may wish to speak to a elder law lawyer. Speaking to an elder law lawyer is not just for those who plan to kick the bucket soon. If you wish to be sure that your estate and plan is ready and in place, or know someone who is a victim of elder abuse, please consider the office of attorney Adam Roa for more information on elder law MD. Otherwise, please consult your local attorney.