Your legal needs naturally change as you age. When you’re young, your biggest concern might be finding a way out of that speeding ticket. Later, you might need assistance with investments, businesses, and family matters. As you settle into retirement in the beautiful state of Texas, it’s only natural to begin thinking about things like estate planning. Meeting these needs can become overwhelming quickly. Thankfully, a Round Rock elder lawyer can help you meet these needs. In doing so, they can give you peace of mind and a sense of security worth its weight in gold. If you’re an elderly person who needs a lawyer, read on to learn more about what an elder law attorney can do for you. If you have more questions, give Robbins Estate Law a call. Our talented and passionate team of legal professionals loves helping clients take on legal challenges. In addition, we treat our customers like family, not numbers.
What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
Elder Law is a niche area of legal practice that centers on issues affecting the aging population. This field of law encompasses a wide range of topics, including:
- Estate planning,
- Guardianship issues,
- Powers of attorney,
- Medicare and Medicaid planning,
- Long-term care planning, and
- Elder abuse protection.
As individuals age, they often face complex legal matters requiring a nuanced understanding of the law and a compassionate approach tailored to their unique needs. Elder lawyers work to meet these legal needs. They play a crucial role in guiding seniors and their families through the various legal issues of old age. Elder lawyers can be found in places like Round Rock, where the population includes a significant number of people over the age of 65.
Let’s explore specific ways an elder lawyer can assist older adults with their legal needs.
Estate planning describes a broad collection of legal activities that center on managing and distributing your assets and affairs during your lifetime and after your passing. It involves creating a structured plan for handling financial and personal matters, ensuring that your family and friends honor your wishes. Estate planning includes drafting healthcare directives, designating beneficiaries for certain bank accounts, and enacting strategies to minimize the impact of taxes on the estate.
Wills & Trusts
Wills and trusts are two kinds of legal documents that reflect your wishes for your assets. Wills outline how you want to distribute your assets upon your passing. They can also name guardians for any minor children. Wills must go through probate, a legal process where a court oversees the allocation of assets under the document. Unfortunately, probate can be time-consuming.
On the other hand, a trust is a fiduciary arrangement where a trustee holds and manages assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. Trusts have several key advantages. For one, trusts take effect as soon as someone creates them. This means you can control the distribution and management of your assets while you’re still alive. Furthermore, trusts avoid probate, which means privacy and a quicker distribution of assets. However, trusts only cover property that you decide to transfer into it. They do not automatically cover all of your assets as a will does.
Elder law attorneys also know how to assist clients with two unique kinds of trusts: Miller trusts and Medicaid asset protection trusts (MAPTs). Medicaid requires individuals to meet both an income and an asset requirement. Miller trusts help individuals meet Medicaid’s income requirement, while MAPTs exist to help people meet Medicaid’s asset limit.
Miller trusts (or qualified income trusts) help elderly individuals qualify for Medicaid benefits. Unlike ordinary trusts, Miller trusts cannot hold property or assets. Instead, individuals transfer a part of their income into a Miller trust. By doing so, they can “reduce” their income below the monthly Medicaid threshold, which allows them to receive Medicaid benefits.
MAPTs exist to help individuals meet Medicaid asset requirements. In doing so, they avoid a situation where a person is financially struggling but cannot qualify for Medicaid because they have too many assets. Once an individual transfers their assets into a MAPT, they are no longer the legal owners of that property. Rather, the property in the MAPT goes to a predetermined beneficiary. Assets generally must be transferred to a MAPT at least five years before applying for Medicaid.
Both of these types of trusts require significant legal planning and preparation. Fortunately, a skilled elder lawyer can easily set up the necessary instruments to help you qualify for Medicaid. In doing so, they’ll give you peace of mind about your future.
Stepping in When Things Go Wrong: How an Elder Lawyer Can Assist with Estate Litigation
Elder lawyers can also play a critical role in defending you or your loved one’s wishes by engaging in estate litigation. Litigation arises when a dispute occurs over the distribution of a deceased person’s estate. This could involve contesting wills, challenging trust distributions, or addressing allegations of undue influence. The stakes are high in these disputes, so having an elder lawyer can prove invaluable.
Specific estate litigation issues include:
- Will contest. A person can question a will’s validity in many ways, such as asserting alleged undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, or improper execution. Whatever the case, an elder lawyer can represent clients by gathering and discussing evidence to support the client’s interest.
- Trust disputes. Disagreements over a trust’s management or the rights of beneficiaries are another common source of litigation. An elder lawyer can resolve these disputes by interpreting trust documents, negotiating between parties, or litigating to uphold the trust’s terms.
- Executor and fiduciary litigation. Executors and trustees alike often receive accusations of mismanaging estate or trust assets. Elder lawyers can assist in these situations by providing counsel on legal obligations and pursuing or defending legal actions regarding a fiduciary’s performance.
- Undue influence and elder abuse claims. Bad actors sometimes manipulate or badger elderly people into changing their will or trust. When the results of this manipulation become apparent in the probate process, elder lawyers can help investigate undue influence claims.
Finally, elder law attorneys help tackle disputes that happen during probate. Common examples include family disputes over heirlooms, disagreements about the value of certain assets, and conflicts amongst beneficiaries.
Let Us Help You with Your Elder Law Needs
Old age comes with many different legal needs. Finding the right attorney to help you take on these legal challenges can be difficult. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. At Robbins Estate Law, we specialize in providing clear, reliable, and exceptional legal advice tailored to your unique needs. Our comprehensive range of services covers every aspect of estate law, from safeguarding your dignity and personal wishes to protecting your loved ones and hard-earned assets. When practicing law, our approach is simple: we build relationships and craft personalized legal strategies. Whether planning your estate, navigating probate, or facing litigation, our team is ready to guide you with expert advice and compassionate service. We are passionate about providing predictable, flat fees with a clear upfront schedule. With us, you won’t have to worry about expensive surprises or hidden costs. What you see is what you get. Contact us today to discover how we can make estate law straightforward and stress-free for you and your family