In the United States, the average lifespan has greatly increased during the past few decades. With this increase in longevity come various issues that have lead to the development of a new area of law specifically focusing on the elderly population. Elder law is a combination of estate planning, long-term care planning, asset protection and veterans benefits planning. Virginia attorney J.S. Burton has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all aspects of elder law and regularly represents clients in this area.
Now that people are living longer, often well into their eighties and nineties, it has become more likely that an individual will need long-term medical care in the future. Unfortunately, long-term care is extraordinarily expensive and an individual could easily deplete his or her life savings in a matter of months when paying for such services out-of- pocket. If a person is unable to pay for this care, his or her assets will be liquidated or the money may be taken out of his or her estate upon his or her passing.
Luckily, there is a way to plan around this long-term care problem. Medicaid is a government-funded healthcare plan available to those who qualify financially. Medicaid will cover an enrollee’s long-term care expenses. Because it is a means-tested program, however, many must spend down or move assets around in order to qualify. J.S. Burton skilled at working with clients in order to make them eligible for Medicaid. We can do this either as a precautionary measure, taking into account the 5-year look- back period during which Medicaid will scrutinize financial records for improper transactions that may result in a penalty, or in a crisis situation where a person needs long-term care as soon as possible. J.S. Burton regularly work with clients on Medicaid-related matters, allowing them to maintain control of their assets and to preserve them for the benefit of loved ones, while still qualifying for Medicaid.
It is also important to realize that living longer increases the chance that a person might become incapacitated at some point in his or her life, becoming unable to handle his or her personal, financial or medical affairs. With a comprehensive estate plan that includes a durable power of attorney and advanced medical directive, an agent will be able to take over the person’s care automatically should the need arise.
Many people do not have an estate plan in place, necessitating guardianship or conservatorship proceedings. In Virginia, a guardian handles a person’s personal and medical affairs, while a conservator handles a person’s finances. Either one can have complete or limited control over the matters in question. In order to appoint a guardian or conservator, a proceeding must be filed in the Virginia Circuit Court. Our attorneys regularly handle these cases on behalf of incapacitated individuals.
Veterans are entitled to an array of assistance, such as medical coverage and cash pension payments, and the lawyers at J.S. Burton also work with veterans and their families in order to obtain VA benefits. We frequently assist those seeking Aid and Attendance (a pension available to veterans and their spouses) but are unsure if they qualify or unaware of how to apply. You can read more about this area of our practice by clicking here.
If you are facing an elder law issue relating to long-term care, Medicaid or incapacity in eastern Virginia, it is important to speak with a qualified attorney. John Burton can be reached at 757-301-9500.