Lawyer Helping Protect Our Parents And Their Legacies Through Elder Law
Elder Law Attorney Caring For The Gainesville Community
Our mission at Johnson Law Firm is to ensure that older people are allowed to live with dignity, maintain their rights, and not be treated as children. It takes a team that is compassionate, dedicated, and caring to provide exemplary service to this community. We are proud to serve the people of Gainesville, Virginia, in this area.
Society is undergoing a massive shift in demographics. People are living longer lives. With an aging population comes a new landscape of legal issues. Not all firms are equipped to deal with these rapid changes and never before seen situations.
Because we have dedicated a portion of our practice to Elder Law, we are highly experienced and ready to help with estate planning, Medicaid planning, medical directives, assigning powers of attorney, and more.
Johnson Law Firm, Elder Law Attorney – Practice Specialization
Our firm has been working in the community and handling elder law cases for more than a decade. No matter what you need to discuss, we are confident that we can help.
Here are some of the cases and documents we handle most often:
Wills are a vital part of estate planning. This legal document outlines how your estate is distributed after your death. Wills determine who gets what. There could also be directives about the manner and timeline for distribution.
Many, especially in Virginia, are tempted to draft their wills with a simple software program. While this is technically legal, you leave yourself vulnerable to unforeseen circumstances and other pitfalls that could throw a wrench into your planning.
We also encourage our elderly patients to have a living will. Living wills provide financial and medical directives to be carried out while you are still alive. The intent is to ensure that your wishes are carried out even if you are not mentally able to communicate them.
Many of our clients ask us to create trusts for them instead of a will. The reason is that a trust doesn’t have to go through probate court when you pass away, but a will does.
The probate process can take months or longer. It can also be incredibly expensive.
Trusts also help your beneficiaries avoid taxes, and they can also protect your heirs from losing out on aid from government entitlement programs.
However, trusts aren’t always superior. Whether you should have a will or trust depends on a variety of factors, which we can discuss in our office during your complimentary consultation.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is someone who acts on your behalf for legal, financial, and health issues. Choose this proxy wisely, as they are given a blank check to your life and finances.
It is illegal to discriminate against people based on age, whether it’s for employment, housing, or another reason.
Often, we hear of baby boomers being excluded from jobs or missing out on promotions because of their age.
Though the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects employees age 40 and above, the clients who most typically need our help with these cases are those approaching retirement. They still need to work to provide for their families and retirement funds. But they find themselves being pushed out of the workforce or remaining stagnant, despite their advanced skills and experience.
Proving age discrimination is difficult, but it’s not impossible. An experienced attorney can help. Keeping an incident log of the following will help strengthen your case:
- Any comments made by an employer about your age;
- A decline in performance review ratings that coincide with your age progression;
- Being disciplined for an act that a younger employee got away with;
- A noticeable pattern of upward mobility among younger employees; and
- Dreary assignments that are assigned to you but not to younger employees.
Keep in mind that a lawsuit can be both timely and expensive. We recommend discussing your case with us to see if we can gather enough evidence for a potentially better deal with your employer.
The elderly are more vulnerable than the general population, especially if they are faced with a mental decline or physical disabilities. The abuse can take many forms, including:
- Physical abuse
- Intentional isolation
- Financial exploitation
Fraud has become rampant in recent years as technological advances outpace the speed of understanding and learning for many individuals. Further, scammers have gotten more creative over the years.
What is particularly heartbreaking is how often the elderly are taken advantage of by people they love and trust, including family members, friends, doctors, and caregivers. Plus, any interaction with a stranger is a potential opening for a scammer. Telemarketers, salespeople, door-to-door canvassers, websites, and virtual pen pals can all be operating with an ulterior motive.
Neglect is a form of elder abuse that is especially tragic. Whether it’s not providing proper nutrition or company, or simply not fulfilling essential duties, the elderly person suffers. While it’s true that we can’t anticipate all of these events or prevent them from happening, we can make sure you have a plan in place with trusted caregivers and a strong network of people who care.
In traditional law, guardianship usually refers to minors, but in the case of elder law, the guardianship pertains to the older adult.
Guardianship or Conservatorship is when someone legally cares for an elderly person when they are no longer able to care for themselves.
These agreements have to go through the courts, which can be expensive. There are more pocketbook-friendly alternatives to guardianship, including:
- Living trust – you designate someone who will handle your financial affairs
- Representative payeeship – you assign someone to manage your income if your income is derived from government benefits
- Power of attorney – you give someone the right to act on your behalf to make financial decisions, sign documents, and establish medical directives
Woodbridge Lawyer Provides Elder Law Services To Community
As the Baby Boomer population ages, elder law is becoming a growing field. While few people relish the idea of getting older, it’s essential to have a plan in place. You need to create the necessary legal documents that protect your health and finances as you age.
At Johnson Law Firm, a significant portion of our practice is dedicated to Elder Law. We are passionate about protecting the citizens of Woodbridge, VA, whether they’re young, old, or somewhere in-between.
Elder law is the intersection of age and law, and it covers a broad spectrum of legal topics associated with the natural process of aging.
The legal topics for elder care fall into three categories:
1. Estate Planning
In estate planning, we help you arrange how your estate will be distributed when you pass. We work with our clients to create a plan and draft all the necessary documentation to protect both you and your heirs. Some of the documents we may prepare for you include a will, a living will, or a trust.
2. Incapacity Planning
Think of incapacity planning as a type of insurance. It’s designed to protect you if your mental capacities are no longer strong enough to make sound decisions on your own. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen, but planning for this possibility when you’re still healthy ensures that your interests are protected.
Incapacity planning addresses three areas in your life:
3. Long Term Care
As we age, we need to consider whether we’ll need care from an outside source, such as a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Both of these options are incredibly expensive, and many of our elder clients assume they won’t be able to pay for it.
At Johnson Law Firm, we can show you how it can be paid for with public funds, and how you can qualify for Medicaid, even if you think you’re not eligible. While Medicaid does have strict rules for eligibility, there are also several myths about it that make people give up or not accurately present their information. Mr. Johnson is a champion when it comes to Medicaid, and he’ll work with you to determine eligibility.
Get in touch today to discuss your case
At Johnson Law Firm, we offer no-cost and no-obligation consultations
All three of these areas are interrelated and require an attorney with both knowledge and experience to understand all the nuances an ensure that a client’s interests are protected. For example, estate planning is likely to include clauses for incapacity planning and long-term care.
As we mentioned, nearly every area of the law you can think of also has an elder law component.
Here are some examples:
The types of contracts in elder law tend to be personal agreements about care. As a person gets older, they may need assistance from family members and friends. While this sense of duty is honorable and originates from love, it is also a significant time commitment and a big responsibility. An outside caregiver might need to be retained to assist with some of the duties or manage them outright.
To ensure that both the caregiver and the person receiving care are protected, a personal agreement is often drafted to assign the responsibilities, determine financial compensation, and outline contingencies.
Health Care Decision Making
As an adult, most of us can make our own decisions. But in elder law cases, there needs to be a plan in place on how the person’s health should be managed if they are no longer able to make these decisions on their own. High rates of dementia and other mental problems are typical in the elderly population.
Having a plan in place in advance can ensure that our clients’ wishes are honored. This plan could include assigning a power of attorney to make both financial and medical directives. It usually also includes potential scenarios the client could face and instructions on how he or she wishes to handle them.
Elder Abuse: Including Criminal Fraud
Sadly, financial fraud is becoming an increasingly common form of elder abuse, and it is the fastest growing. At a high level, this type of fraud is when someone uses the elderly person’s money or property improperly. It could involve stealing, a scam, forging a signature, or other nefarious activity.
The elderly population is viewed as vulnerable. Older people tend to be more isolated and lonelier. They could be struggling to handle grief or pain. Further, they aren’t likely to be as savvy about new scams. They often trust the people caring for them, whether it’s a doctor, caregiver, family member or friend, and they also could fall prey to strangers or salespeople.
The variation and ingenuity of the fraud we see in our practice are astounding and scary. It’s imperative that our elderly clients have someone trustworthy to look out for them as well as have agreements in place to protect our clients.
Other forms of elder abuse are equally inexcusable, including physical abuse, neglect, abandonment, intentional isolation, abduction, and mental suffering.
If you or a loved one has been victimized, please get in touch with Johnson Law Firm today for a free consultation. We can help.
A tort is any wrongdoing that causes someone to suffer loss or harm. When this occurs, the person who commits the tort is legally liable. Sometimes liability involves prison, but most often, it provides an opportunity for relief for the damages incurred.
Here’s an example of an alleged tort:
An older man has recently married. When he dies, the new wife inherits everything, but the children believe the new wife manipulated her husband into removing the children from the will. The children could potentially sue for tortious interference, but this is not always easy. The plaintiffs would have to prove the following:
- They expected to receive an inheritance;
- The new wife intentionally interfered;
- The defendant’s interference was intended to harm;
- The children would have received the inheritance if the wife didn’t intervene; or
- The children sustained damages due to not receiving the inheritance.
As you can see, whether you’re the plaintiff or defendant in this matter, it’s going to be a contentious matter. Having an attorney on your side can make things go much more smoothly.
Nursing Home Malpractice
While many nursing homes are lovely, the elder abuse and malpractice statistics are frightening. 95% of nursing home residents reported neglect in the past year. This neglect tends to fall into these categories:
- Medical negligence
- Not providing basic needs, such as food, water, and a clean and safe environment
- Unsuitable hygiene practices
- Social or emotional neglect
Our elderly clients should be equipped with long-term care insurance. When we work with a new client, this is often at the top of our list because it is so critical. Long-term Care Insurance (LTCI) isn’t always black and white. There could be legitimate reasons for delaying starting coverage in Virginia. It’s our job at Johnson Law Firm to assess your situation and help you with a plan that fits your needs.
Getting older can be expensive, especially if you need long-term care and assistance. These expenses are not usually covered by Medicare, which makes elderly citizens seek out Medicaid. While Medicaid is a much more comprehensive health care coverage, it’s designed for people with limited income and resources.
Logically, if you are no longer in the workforce, then you should be able to qualify. If you are not currently earning an income, then, by definition, your resources are limited. However, the law and the terms of eligibility are much more complicated than that.
Many of our clients are concerned that they have to go broke first before they can qualify. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Our Medicaid Planning services will assist you in protecting your assets and applying for eligibility in a way that offers the best chance for success.
As you can see, nearly every part of the law is covered in elder law. The only distinction is that elder law pertains to age and the vulnerabilities that are associated with the aging process.
Elder Law Attorney FAQs
What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
Elder law attorneys consult on any legal matter pertaining to an older person, including estate planning, health care issues, guardianship, Medicaid planning, Medicare, retirement, and Social Security.
Older people are in a position where they have to have a solid plan in place for their eventual death. They also may need protection and financial planning while they are still alive. An elder law attorney can help.
Who Needs to Hire an Elder Law Attorney?
Anyone approaching old age or who is already elderly should consider meeting with an elder law attorney. As you age, there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of, and the mountain of forms and legal documents that have to be filled out are complicated. One mistake can cost thousands or more.
There’s a corny lawyer joke that goes something like this:
Person: Do I need an elder law attorney?
Lawyer: Only if you have children or you don’t have children.
Yes, the joke is terrible, but it points to the fact that no matter what your family or financial situation is, you need to have planned out eventualities upon your death. You need to make sure your affairs are in order if you are unable to take care of yourself while you are alive.
As we age, we might not be as close to family as we once were. We are likely to develop health challenges. We should also be concerned about our capacity, being exploited, and feeling vulnerable. There’s a lot to consider in our golden years, and having an attorney on your side can help you have peace of mind.
What Is the Difference Between Estate Planning and Elder Law?
Estate planning is related to elder law in that it’s a part of elder law practice, but the two are not the same thing. Estate planning can be done for elderly clients and younger clients alike. Elder law typically includes estate planning, but it also encompasses a wide variety of other topics, as we outlined in the above sections.
Do I Need an Attorney That Specializes in Elder Law?
Until 1965, the rights of the aging population were an afterthought. That was the year that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act (OAA), and it was also the year that Medicare was created.
This field is still relatively new when it comes to the law and legal precedents. Working with an attorney that has a deep and intimate understanding of elder law is going to benefit you much more than working with a general practitioner. Plus, working with a specialist won’t cost extra.
Mr. Johnson is an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney serving the Manassas community for more than a decade.
At What Age Should I Consider Working With an Elder Law Attorney?
There’s not necessarily a right age or a wrong age, but we urge our clients in Manassas to start planning by the time they turn 60, while they are still generally vibrant and healthy. The longer you wait, the more you risk losing your ability to make decisions and the nest egg you’ve worked so hard to build.
If you need assistance with estate planning and elder law, get in touch with Johnson Law Firm for a free consultation.
Should You Hire an Elder Law Attorney or a General Practitioner?
Of all the areas of law in the United States, elder law is one of the newest. The rights of the aging population were an afterthought until 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Older Americans Act (OAA). This was also the year Medicare was created.
A few years later, this law was amended to include a national nutritional program. But it wasn’t until the year 2000 that it included a National Family Caregiver Support Program to help families care for their aging loved ones.
Because this area of law is so nuanced and still changing, it is beneficial to work with a lawyer that dedicates a portion of his or her practice to this field. Mr. Johnson is an experienced estate planning and elder law attorney. He has served the Woodbridge community for more than a decade.
If you need assistance with estate planning and elder law, get in touch with Johnson Law Firm for a free consultation.
There are steps you can take today to prevent this from becoming your loved ones worst nightmare. At Johnson Law Firm, PC, Attorney Johnson recommends taking a few steps today.
Call and set-up a free consultation to discuss creating, Medicaid Planning, Revocable Living Trust, Living Will, Power of Attorney, and Last Will and Testament. Attorney Johnson will walk you through the steps to create a Guardianship and Conservatorship to protect your loved ones, if necessary. They spent their lives working hard and saving to accumulate some wealth, you don’t want their hard earned money tied up in for years in probate, upon their passing.
You need to find the best estate law attorney who will help protect your assets and your loved ones assets so you can enjoy your life. Elder law is a very specific piece/part of estate planning. Search for the highest rated or top law firms in your area will not get you the expertise required to handle these cases. You need a lawyer who is focused on elder law and not just writing the occasional Will.
Attorney Johnson received a Masters in Tax Law with a concentration in Estate Planning from the University of Alabama School of Law. He has spent years working with families to protect their futures and ensure their loved ones are properly taken care of as they age. The Johnson Law Firm is highly reviewed on google with over 30 5- star client reviews.
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