Elder Law Attorneys in Yonkers, NY

Helping Seniors and Their Families Navigate Trying Times

Many things change as we get older and head into our retirement years. There may be a slower pace of life, healthcare challenges, and cognitive changes. The senior years also bring unique legal challenges, and preparing for your future can help you maximize your golden years. Whether this means getting help with estate planning, understanding how to protect your assets from Medicare, or establishing a guardianship for a loved one who can no longer make decisions on their own, elder law lawyers can help.

Having the right support system can make aging much easier and less stressful, and this is especially true when it comes to navigating legal matters. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, are here to assist in any way we can. Call our office to learn what services we offer and how we can help you have peace of mind for whatever the future may bring.

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

Elder law encompasses all the legal matters that seniors or their loved ones may deal with. This generally includes things like Medicare and Medicaid planning, retirement planning, and estate planning. However, some people may also need to discuss guardianships, conservatorships, or disability planning with an elder law attorney. Some attorneys also practice law related to elder abuse and fraud recovery.

Why Is Financial Planning Important for Seniors?

The average retirement age in the United States is 61, but the average lifespan is 77. This means that most seniors end up living off of their retirement income or other supplemental programs, such as Medicare and Social Security. To ensure that you have the financial means to afford the quality of life you want, it’s important to plan ahead and understand how to make the most out of these programs.

Elder law attorneys provide services related to Medicare and Medicare counseling, which can help seniors understand how their current incomes and assets may impact their eligibility for these services. In some cases, there may be strategic moves to make, such as selling a home or putting assets in a trust. However, these programs usually have lookback periods, so making and executing a plan sometimes years in advance is necessary.

How Can I Protect My Assets Without Losing My Ability to Qualify for Medicaid?

Medicaid can be a valuable resource in paying for health care expenses, including long-term care, but it has specific requirements. Generally, seniors 65 years old or over can have an income that is up to 138% of the federal poverty level. There may also be restrictions on how much you can have in assets. If you have more than the allowed amount, you will be expected to use those assets and income to help pay for long-term care before Medicaid kicks in.

With the average price of assisted living sitting at $4,100 in New York and the price of nursing home care even higher, at $10,403 for a semiprivate room, this can deplete your finances quickly. But there are some ways to protect your assets. A Medicaid asset protection trust lets you transfer excess assets into a trust where they no longer qualify toward the means test. However, it’s important to be aware that once assets are transferred into this type of trust, they cannot be transferred out.

Other options include a life estate, which sets up joint ownership of the property and can exclude it from the means test, and a Medicaid annuity. Medicaid has a lookback period of 5 years, which means these strategies need to be put into place well before you plan on using Medicaid to pay for care to be helpful.

What Legal Issues Can Affect Social Security Benefits?

One of the main advantages of using elder lawyers and their legal services is that they can help you become aware of potential issues before they happen so you can be proactive. Social Security benefits, which many seniors rely on, can be impacted by various legal issues. For example, if you decide to retire early, your benefits could be reduced. There are offsets for public pensions and government pensions, which can decrease your expected benefits in some situations.

Family law matters, such as divorce and remarriage, can also have an impact. If you are eligible for spousal benefits, a divorce and/or subsequent remarriage could change how much you can receive or whether you can receive any spousal benefit at all. Social Security can also be garnished to pay spousal support obligations, which can significantly cut into how much you have to live on. If you have any concerns about how other areas of your life could affect your Social Security or retirement benefits, speak with an elder law lawyer.

What Estate Planning Documents Should I Have?

An elder law firm can also help seniors with estate planning to ensure they have the legal documents they need in place if something happens to them. Every person should have a last will and testament and a living will. If you are comfortable with someone else making medical or financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to, you may also want to set up health care proxies and a financial power of attorney. Revocable and irrevocable trusts can protect assets from creditors after your passing and avoid probate so beneficiaries have faster access to their inheritances.

The legal issues that can impact seniors are significant and varied, but a NY elder law attorney can help you make sense of what you’re dealing with and establish a path forward. Call the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, at 914-344-5145 to speak to a member of our team today.

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