Elder Law Services
Our Elder Law packages include as many or as few of the following services that you desire or need:
In addition to offering our services to help you achieve autonomy and an enjoyable quality of life during your senior years, we also offer Probate Administration to help manage a loved one’s affairs following their death.
The probate process can be highly complex and especially overwhelming when you are grieving. This extensive and stressful process often affects relationships between family members. Working with an attorney who can take you step by step through the process is well worth the time and frustration it will save you.
ESTATE PLANNING – WILLS AND TRUSTS
The most basic estate planning begins with a will. Wills in West Virginia can take several forms. If your will is not properly drafted in one of those forms, it will be considered invalid and upon your death, you will be considered to have died intestate, meaning without a will.
Many people do not feel it is a big concern to die without a will either because they don’t have many assets or they assume everything will go to their spouse or children. That may be the case, but things could get complicated when you have a blended family, unmarried same-sex partner or a second marriage. Even if you only had a small amount of assets, many estates have turned into a court battle over something as simple as mom’s snow globe collection. Saving your family from a major fall-out by executing a simple, well thought out will could be your greatest legacy.
You may think a trust is something only used for large estates. There are many different types of trusts that serve multiple purposes, and there may be one that is a vital planning tool for you.
And don’t forget about your pets! The last place you want your pets to end up is the animal shelter if something happens to you. Get the documents in place to ensure they live out their lives well-cared for and in loving hands.
GoodGrief Law will look at your unique circumstances and help guide you to a plan that is perfect for you.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
Without a doubt, the first place to start when crafting your senior years’ plan is with power of attorney documents. Without a power of attorney in place for medical decisions and financial affairs, you run a very serious risk that these important decisions can fall into the wrong hands in the event you become incapacitated.
Even if a trusted family members is ultimately appointed to handle those matters for you, it could require a court process to bestow them with that authority. The forms to have someone appointed as your medical or durable power of attorney can be very simple, but they vary from state to state. If not properly drafted, you may believe you have a legally valid document, when, in fact, you do not. Storage of those important documents is a consideration as well.
ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVES
The term most people are familiar with when it comes to advance health care directives is a “living will.” A living will is your opportunity to set forth the course of treatment you want for yourself if you become terminally ill or in a permanently unconscious state. If you do not have those instructions laid out, your care will be decided upon by your medical power of attorney or medical surrogate. Make a plan to stay in control of your end-of-life wishes.
Starting early in life saving for retirement and making a long-term health care plan is ideal senior planning. Most of us, however, do not do that. It is difficult when you are young to think of yourself as a senior. As a result, often when it comes time for nursing home care, individuals will find themselves in crisis planning.
Whether you are a proactive planner or facing crisis planning, there are tools you can use to protect assets from the high cost of nursing home care. These tools include Medicaid compliant annuities, long-term care insurance, hybrid long-term care insurance, irrevocable burial and funeral trusts, whole life insurance and others. No matter your situation, we can help you find a solution to achieve relief from the high cost of a nursing home and preserve your assets.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides medical coverage to low-income adults, children, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
Medicaid is a complex program, but if you find yourself facing a lengthy stay in a nursing home, you could possibly become eligible for Medicaid to cover the costs without having to spend down your personal assets. At GoodGrief Law we can help you through the application process and help protect your legacy for your loved ones.
Medicare is the federal and private health insurance partnership program for people 65 and older, and younger people with certain disabilities. The federal government develops Medicare coverage appeal rules, but private companies partnered with Medicare mostly make the decisions to grant or deny coverage. Medicare does not cover long-term care. If you have Medicare and are facing an extended stay in a nursing home, it may have to be paid by private funds.
Our team at GoodGrief Law can help you find the right Medicare policy to fit your individual needs and to help protect your assets for the high cost of assisted living or nursing home care.
GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP
A day may come when you are faced with the situation where a loved one is showing clear signs of mental incapacity. If your loved one has not already signed a durable power of attorney and a medical power of attorney giving someone the authority to make decisions on their behalf, you will require a court proceeding to have a guardian and/or a conservator appointed.
The court will ensure that your loved one has become legally incapacitated before appointing someone in the role of guardian and conservator. The lawyers at GoodGrief Law can help you navigate that process for a loved one to make sure the most trusted and appropriate person takes on that role, which may be you.
The legalization of same-sex marriages in the State of West Virginia in 2014 has greatly improved the estate planning process for gay and lesbian couples who are married. But whether you are single, partnered, or married, some complexities still exist when it comes to senior years and estate planning for the LGBTQ community. This is particularly true if you have family members who do not support your sexuality or gender identity.
To ensure that you will be 100% in control of who makes decisions for you medically and financially in the event of your inability to do so, to protect who steps in as the guardian for your children if something happens to you and to ensure that no one interferes with your wishes with regard to how your assets are distributed after your death, GoodGrief Law is here to help you.
LONG-TERM CARE PLANNING
Long-term care planning involves identifying present and potential future care needs, getting coverage lined up to cover you from asset depletion if a debilitating condition occurs and locating high-quality, appropriate care.
Most insurance plans do not cover long-term care unless you pay extra to add the coverage to your policy. If a specific policy is not in place to cover long-term care, it must be paid for by private funds. Even if your personal assets get spent down to qualify you for Medicaid, there is still a reimbursement requirement from any personal assets you have left after your death, which puts your beneficiaries’ inheritance at risk. GoodGrief Law can help you find appropriate care and put the best tools in place to protect assets.
Life insurance can be complex. There are many different types of policies and add-on options. The policies are long, difficult to read and full of legal terms. Most people unfortunately sign contracts without fully understanding the terms. This may result in obligating yourself to conditions you do not want, need or can afford. Seniors are especially susceptible to being taken advantage of.
The lawyers at GoodGrief Law will be happy to review life insurance policies or any other contracts that you are considering signing or reviewing contracts that you currently have.
ELDER ABUSE & NEGLECT
Physical and psychological abuse of the elderly is, unfortunately, a reality. Abuse can take other forms than just yelling or hitting. Withholding care or medical treatment to someone who is incapacitated is abuse as well. Whether it occurs in an institution or in a home setting, help is available at GoodGrief Law.
We can talk with a senior in a private setting away from caregivers. If you have a family member who you believe is being abused, reach out to us. We are always available to come to you or to meet at a location that is safe for our clients.
The list of scams against the elderly go on and on. But when the exploitation becomes personal, GoodGrief Law is ready to take action. Financial exploitation occurs when a family member, friend, caregiver or service provider uses the financial resources of an elderly person for personal benefit through threats, undue influence, thievery or deception. These acts are criminal, but there may be civil recourse as well.
We can talk with a senior in a private setting away from caregivers. If you believe you are being financially exploited, or if you have a family member who you believe is being financially exploited, reach out to us. We are always available to come to you or to meet at a location that is safe for our clients.
SENIOR RELOCATING ASSISTANCE
When the time comes to down-size into a smaller house, retirement community or an assisted living facility, the task can be overwhelming. Many people have a life-time of belongings and clutter stored up in a family home.
GoodGrief Law can help you navigate through the process of clearing out your house, finding a reliable moving company that caters to seniors and working with real estate agents who truly have your best interest at heart.
It used to be rare that people who make it past the seven-year itch get divorced. That is no longer the case. Senior divorces are on the rise. Our experienced team at GoodGrief Law can help seniors get through the divorce process as stress-free as possible, while navigating the division of many long years of shared assets. Those shared/martial assets often include pensions, IRA’s, certificates of deposit, investment accounts, annuities, whole life insurance, real estate, trust interests, family heirlooms and substantial personal property.