Question Five: Do I really need help with my parents’ elder law and/ or estate planning or can I do it on my own?

Answer:  Yes, it is possible to do it through Legal Zoom or other on-line services to achieve a "do it yourself result".  But, this area of the law is complicated and you and your elderly parents might need and benefit from the help of an attorney to make sure their elder law estate planning documents are set up properly. Also, because of the complexity of elder law issues, tax laws, and Medicaid’s look back rule which limits gifting it is important to consider the help of an attorney. As you conduct your own research you may realize that estate and elder law planning has a language of its own.  Therefore, you may not fully understand the meaning or importance of each clause in a document. 

If you do not have your parents’ estate planning documents drafted or executed correctly the court can determine that the documents are not valid. Furthermore, the IRS or the state can also determine that documents such as trusts are not designated to achieve tax nursing home protection goals leaving you or your parents to pay a large sum of money in taxes or to a care facility.  If your parents’ documents are not valid, the court will be able to distribute their assets according to law and not according to their wishes. 

When trying to find an estate planning attorney, he/she should be licensed to practice within the state in which your elderly parents currently reside and should have elder or senior law experience. Each state has its own estate planning laws. Therefore, it may be highly beneficial for you to work with an attorney who lives and practices in the same state as your elderly parents. Furthermore, you want to find an attorney or law firm which focuses its practiction in these areas.

Please contact David M. Frees, III at [email protected] or call us at 888-573-7407 regarding your elder law questions.