The legal practice area known as “elder law” is a response to the increasing number of seniors in our society and the graying of our population. Thanks to the efforts of the health care community and advances in medical science, our life expectancy has improved significantly over the past several decades. As a result, our chances of becoming mentally and physically incapacitated before our demise have increased as well. This circumstance has led to a growing need for legal representation in planning estates, protecting vulnerable seniors from financial exploitation, seeking appointments as conservators and guardians for the incapacitated, planning for Medicaid eligibility, all done with an eye toward preserving assets for the healthy spouse and the children.
Attorneys whose practice includes elder law matters are well versed in these issues and are sensitive to the practical problems of representing seniors. Challenging ethical questions can arise in this context, placing a premium on experience and communication skills on the part of the elder law attorney. An experienced elder law attorney will know the answers to these ethics issues and advise you accordingly.
Each of the attorneys at Midgett Preti Olansen handles the representation of incapacitated persons who have been identified as needing either a Guardian to care for their health or living needs or a Conservator to oversee their financial affairs. Our attorneys can file a petition for the appointment of a Guardian and/or Conservator and all related matters for the appointment or removal of a Guardian or Conservator. We can also serve as the Guardian ad litem (the person who defends the rights and interests of the incapacitated person). The appointment of a Guardian and/or Conservator addresses the issues of healthcare, preservation of governmental benefits, and protection of assets.
Federal and state legislation and administrative regulations are constantly changing, making it imperative to seek counsel who maintains an active elder law practice. Clients (and attorneys) seek our assistance in establishing “special needs” trusts, which are asset management trusts designed to provide funds for quality of life for a person who is receiving government assistance without risking the loss of these ongoing financial benefits. And, of course, legal advice is sought almost daily about ways to protect assets in the face of impending long term health care expenses for a loved one. Attorney involvement in these matters can range from an office consultation on the available options to active representation before an administrative hearing officer or the courts to determine eligibility for Medicaid and the amount of assets and income to be preserved for the spouse or family.
At Midgett Preti Olansen, we aspire to provide our clients with the most current and creative counsel available in this field. We maintain membership in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and are actively involved in serving our local community. We also lecture to legal and financial professionals regularly on these and related topics, providing informed service to seniors in our community.