At The Heritage Law Center in eastern Massachusetts, our qualified elder law attorney provides the legal planning to help seniors protect themselves and their assets as they age. While we offer all of our clients a free initial consultation and a full range of estate planning services, when working with seniors we focus on needs more specific to seniors, such as preserving assets from long-term care costs, health care directives, and final wishes.
Matthew Karr, Esq., our experienced elder law attorney, is well-prepared to explain the complicated and often confusing elements of government benefits and legal documents. Our practice is designed to be friendly, accessible, and caring as well as efficient. We understand the particular concerns of seniors related to providing for their children and grandchildren, protecting their own retirement plans, and making certain that they have the funds they may need in the future for long-term healthcare.
For one thing, we’re well aware that many people are unclear about the difference between Medicare and MassHealth (Medicaid in Massachusetts), so we’re happy to describe the difference and answer any questions you have. Medicare is a government program that covers a substantial portion, but not all, of medical costs for seniors. MassHealth is a federal and state program that supports the cost of nursing home care for people with limited income and resources. Our sharp team is also available to help seniors decide at what age it’s best to take Social Security.
In a similar fashion, many older individuals are horrified to find that just when they become seriously ill and require help with mounting drug expenses, their prescription costs may reach the dreaded “donut hole,” a gap in insurance coverage that may threaten to exhaust their savings. Many seniors are also surprised when they learn that even though their income is low during their later years, MassHealth will go after their accumulated assets to cover their long-term nursing care expenses unless they have worked with savvy elder law lawyers beforehand.
How Our Elder Law Attorney Can Help with MassHealth
We understand the ins and outs of MassHealth law and have accumulated a wide variety of techniques to help you with MassHealth planning. It’s estimated that 70% of people over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care services during their lifetime. The key is to plan ahead. We can help you with:
- Qualifying for MassHealth
People qualify for MassHealth by meeting strict income and asset limits. As a MassHealth planning attorney, Matthew Karr, Esq., will review your estate and healthcare needs, and help arrange your assets to protect them from nursing home costs and qualify you for MassHealth assistance. By utilizing strategies like irrevocable trusts, strategic gifting, converting countable assets into exempt assets, legal spend downs, and utilizing annuities and long-term care insurance, we’ll help protect your assets and quality of life, while saving your family significant money.
It’s important to keep in mind the 5-year-look-back period. When someone applies for MassHealth, MassHealth has the right to examine an applicant’s bank and financial records for up to five years immediately prior to the date of application. If they discover a transfer of assets during this period, whether to a trust or to another person, they’ll impose a disqualification period on the applicant’s eligibility (a length of time the applicant won’t be eligible for MassHealth). This is one reason why it’s so important to start planning for MassHealth today.
- Applying for MassHealth
People often need help with the MassHealth application. As a knowledgeable MassHealth planning attorney in Massachusetts, Matt will help you through the burdensome and often confusing application process to get MassHealth benefits. The application process itself can take up to six months; properly completing this time-sensitive application is a crucial step.
How The Heritage Law Center Can Help with Other Elder Law Matters
As an older adult, working with an elder law attorney is crucial in arranging for:
- Business succession
- Temporary incapacity due to a medical event or injury
- Long-term care planning, including home options
- Protection of assets for loved ones
- Choice of an individual you trust to manage your financial affairs if you’re unable to do so
- Choice of someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf
- Documentation of your funeral or memorial wishes and how your remains should be handled (e.g., burial, cremation, donation of organs)
- How you’d like your assets to be distributed after your death
- Personal care contracts
When you think about it, procrastinating to contact a skilled elder law lawyer could leave those you love adrift without a paddle. If something happens to you before you put a plan in place and you become incapacitated, you’ll be forcing your loved ones to go through a costly and often time-consuming court process so they can make important decisions for you during an emotional and grief-stricken time.
We’ll Create the Documents You Need
A great many things are likely to happen during your lifetime, some exciting and joyful, some heartbreaking. The truth is that most of these events are unpredictable, some even unimaginable. Fortunately, over centuries laws have evolved to cover most contingencies. Our elder law firm can:
- Arrange guardianships to tend to loved ones who become incapacitated.
- Set up conservatorships for a loved one who can no longer tend to her or his finances.
- Prepare wills to designate executors, beneficiaries, and guardians for minors.
- Prepare trusts to protect assets from taxes, creditors, lawsuits and to serve very specific purposes (e.g., pet trusts, special needs trusts, spendthrift trusts).
- Create trusts to prevent disabled relatives from losing their government benefits (e.g., special needs trusts).
- Establish a durable power of attorney to appoint a person to act on a loved one’s behalf in legal and financial matters in case of incapacity.
- Create a health care proxy.
- Prepare a medical advance directive.
The Heritage Law Center Will Keep Your Documents Current
We take our responsibility to you and your family very seriously. We’ll review your documents with you on a regular basis to ensure that they are in keeping with changes in your life — selling your home, having a grandchild marry, having a sibling who develops special needs. Each person’s situation is unique, which is why our elder law team tailors every elder plan for each client. We’re also very careful to keep in sync with all changes in federal or state law that may affect your elder plan.
Contact Our North Shore Elder Law Attorney
While as Bette Davis famously noted “old age ain’t no place for sissies,” there are advantages to getting older. One is that you have the benefit of experience and the wisdom that comes with it. As elder law attorneys, we pride ourselves on carefully listening to and working with our older clients, to make sure we put the best plan in place for their future. Contact our law firm for a consultation.