The aging process is one of those inescapable facts of life. We all get older, and as we do we find that there always seem to be new challenges awaiting us. For senior citizens, many of those challenges involve complex matters of law and public policy that they often struggle to deal with. Long-term care, applications for benefits, age discrimination, and potential fraud and abuse are but a few of the many complex issues that Florida seniors have to deal with on a regular basis. If you’re a senior in this area, it’s important to know how a Port St. Lucie elder law attorney can protect your rights and interests.
Dealing with the High Cost of Nursing Home Care
You’ve almost certainly read or heard about how nursing home costs around the country have exploded in recent decades. The same holds true here in our own state, where costs for long-term care hover around $100,000 for the average senior. Given that a sizeable portion of nursing home residents live in those facilities for years – with at least 10% expected to remain for a minimum of five years or longer, it is easy to see why so many seniors struggle to find ways to pay for that care. There aren’t many seniors who can afford to have long-term care costs consume hundreds of thousands of dollars of their savings – even if they have that kind of nest egg to consume.
Fortunately, there is a better way. Seniors shouldn’t have to divest themselves of everything they own just to get the essential medical care they need in their twilight years. Their contributions to society over the course of many decades should entitle them to our assistance, to ensure that they can live out their lives with the dignity they deserve. Thanks to the Medicaid program, that assistance is available for those who qualify.
There are strict income and asset limits of course – limits that many seniors might assume would require them to spend all of the money they have before applying for benefits. With an elder law attorney’s help, you can ensure that your assets are protected from being counted for the purposes of eligibility assessment. That can enable you to qualify for the Medicaid assistance you need while still leaving your estate intact so that you have a source of income and a legacy to leave to your loved ones when you die.
Like most people who have prolonged interaction with government agencies, older Floridians can find themselves frustrated with confusing applications for various programs ranging from Medicare or disability to veterans’ benefits. Often times, these seniors need assistance with either the application process or the appeal of a denial of benefits. Your elder law attorney can help you to navigate all of the major benefit processes to ensure that you get access to the programs and help you need.
As difficult as it might be to believe, discrimination against the elderly remains a problem in America. As a result, we all see instances where seniors are denied access to housing or employment solely because someone decides that they are too old or simply unwanted. Age discrimination is something that should never be tolerated by seniors, but many simply don’t know how to address the issue. An experienced elder attorney can provide the help you need to ensure that your right to be free from any type of discrimination is protected.
Elder Abuse and Fraud
While discrimination is always a sign of intolerance and ignorance, fraud and abuse of the elderly is an evil of another sort altogether. As the nation’s population has aged in recent decades, instances of criminal abuse and defrauding of the elderly have multiplied at an alarming rate. Elder abuse is a crime that needs to be dealt with as soon as it is discovered, but many seniors end up feeling ashamed and confused about where to turn for help. Fraud can have that same impact, as seniors either fail to realize they’ve been defrauded or are too embarrassed to report the incident. If you’re a senior who has been abused, neglected, or defrauded, there is no shame for you to bear. That shame belongs to the perpetrator of the crime, and that person needs to be dealt with by our justice system. An elder law attorney can help you regain control over the situation and assert your rights.
Even seniors who have existing estate plans in place need to ensure that those plans are updated to reflect changes in their circumstances. New beneficiaries may need to be added, or old ones removed. Seniors who have yet to begin estate planning should do so to ensure that their assets have the protection they need as they enter retirement. This is especially true for recent retirees who want to ensure that they can qualify for nursing home assistance in the future if the need arises.
An experienced elder law and estate planning attorney can help you to assess your existing estate and develop a plan that will ensure that your assets are secure and growing over time. The process itself can be a useful exercise that helps you to take stock of your life’s work, and gain new insight about the type of legacy you want to leave behind for your heirs and other loved ones.
Seniors should always remember that the new challenges they face as they age don’t have to be faced alone. The practice of elder law is designed to help older Floridians cope with all of the new legal issues and life challenges that present themselves during the retirement years. At Robert Kulas Attorneys at Law, our legal team has years of experience in a variety of critical elder law areas, and we can help you to manage many of the most complex legal issues you’ll encounter as you get older. Give us a call at (772) 398-0720 today or contact us online to learn how our elder law services can help you.