10 Things to Look for in Your Maryland Elder Law Attorney

Elder law encompasses a wide range of legal matters that affect older individuals and families. Attorneys who practice elder law advocate for seniors and execute legal plans to assist them in living better lives.

Their expertise may encompass estate planning, as well as planning for retirement, Social Security, and long-term medical care. This specialty of the legal profession remains crucial for the well-being of this ever-increasing population.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 54 million seniors live in the U.S. This accounts for more than 16 percent of the total population. The number of American seniors is on track to grow to roughly 98 million by 2060.

Contemplating financial matters and making long-term life decisions via estate planning can be an emotional journey yet, at the same time, a rewarding one. Managing your assets wisely as you age is crucial as you plan to provide for the family members who will survive you. Qualified Maryland elder law attorneys, such as the attorneys at Elville and Associates, know how to plan strategies that address such concerns.

Keeping Records and Detailed Instructions

Many people want to ensure orderly asset protection, management, and eventual administration while having flexibility if circumstances change. Wealth preservation is the main priority, and it requires accuracy.

For example, over time, you may come to have assets in multiple states. You want to be sure to document the status of any community or tenant-occupied property. An inventory of small business assets and their dispersal may also be necessary. You’ll be discussing financial information and highly personal matters with your Maryland elder law attorney, so trust is critical.

Individuals often want to take steps to ensure their loved ones will inherit their estate. They may also seek to name their children as legal guardians in the event they become unable to handle their own affairs. Putting together detailed instructions can help reduce conflicts and minimize legal expenses. In turn, this may even help reduce taxes as well, ensuring heirs receive the full value of their portion of the estate.

Qualified Maryland elder law attorneys can provide guidance on each of these fronts.

Shaping an Estate Plan

No matter your estate’s size, creating a comprehensive estate strategy is critical, nor is estate planning a “set it and forget it” process. Family needs, as well as new issues regarding state laws and regulations, are always evolving. Periodic reviews of existing documents with a Maryland elder law attorney will keep your planning current in an ever-changing world.

Executing a will or acting as trustee of an estate frequently requires the support of a professional. Finding a Maryland elder law attorney whose primary focus is estate planning will give you options to achieve your goals. With knowledge of Maryland statutes, Elville and Associates’ attorneys can develop an asset protection strategy, update your estate plan over time, and administer your estate with efficiency.

However, keep in mind that putting your affairs in order requires more than creating a will.

Comprehensive estate plans may include other foundational documents, including trusts and health care directives. Long-term care planning provisions and specific durable powers of attorney are crucial, too. If you have minor children or a loved one with special needs, you can identify a guardian to care for them.

Your estate plan may include retirement housing preferences, long-term care plans, and how to cover those costs. Maryland elder law attorneys can also assist with decisions concerning probate and gift, income, and estate tax matters.

Designating Agents to Make Decisions on Your Behalf

While you are still healthy, work with an attorney to choose people you trust to make future financial and medical decisions on your behalf. If you ever become unable to handle your own affairs, these appointees will be there to support your best interests.

Should you ever face a dementia diagnosis, it may still be possible for you to sign legal documents. Capacity requirements for each legal document may vary, however. An experienced elder law attorney can help you understand and complete the proper legal documents in these cases.

10 Things to Look for in a Maryland Elder Law Attorney

  1. Provides a warm, empathetic approach and caring environment.
  1. Attorney is a counselor and not just a technician.
  1. Clients are provided with a unique estate planning or elder law planning experience, and not just a transaction.
  1. Provides an interactive planning process in partnership with clients — emphasis on client’s goals (not a paternalistic approach).
  1. Ensures Financial Advisor/ CPA — collaborative approach with the goal of an inclusive advisory team effort; works in good faith with Financial Advisors and/or CPAs to implement all appropriate solutions in the best interests of the client.
  1. Timely and structured process — encourages clients to complete the planning process and discourages procrastination.
  1. Asset alignment — planning attorney and firm’s asset alignment coordinator oversee and ensure proper asset alignment with all estate and elder law plans (client not abandoned with unfunded plan).
  1. Client education and understanding — to the extent possible, the attorney ensures that client understands and has at least a working knowledge of their planning documents and choices.
  1. Follow up — maintains ongoing contact with clients via annual continuing education and Client Care Programs to encourage clients to meet with attorney at least bi-annually and facilitates client-attorney contact. throughout the years via newsletter and other communications.
  2. Value-added services — provides client access to Client Care Program as the primary path towards achieving “perfection in planning” and access to the latest in contemporary estate planning ancillary solutions for “complete” estate planning, elder care planning, and special needs planning.

Selecting an attorney is an important decision and one you want to consider being a lifetime relationship.  Partner with someone who offers clear communication, options, and ideas that align with your family’s and your values.  

To schedule a consultation and learn how Elville and Associates can help you achieve your planning goals, visit us here, or contact Community Relations Director Jeff Stauffer at jeff@elvilleassociates.com or 443-393-7696 x117.   

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