Our Elder Law Practice

There are approximately 40 million Americans who are 65 years of age and older, and 10,000 Americans who turn 65 every day. People are growing older and living longer but have fewer resources. The elder law attorneys at Houston Harbaugh, P.C., are here to help you plan for your future.

What Is Elder Law?

Elder law isn't just about senior citizens. It's about them, the people who care for them, their children. It's about people with disabilities and their families. In short, it could be about you.

What do you think of when you hear the term "elder law attorney?" Many people think of attorneys who deal with Medicaid planning and other crisis situations when in reality, the scope of the elder law field is much broader.

Of all areas of law, elder law may be one of the most difficult about which to formulate a concrete definition. Many attorneys agree that the best way to define elder law may be by the demographics that the elder law attorney serves – generally the elderly and the disabled and related issues. Any and every issue that these two demographics could conceivably face fall under the umbrella known as elder law.

Common Elder Law Issues

Some common practice areas that fall under the umbrella of elder law include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Medicaid planning
  • Veterans pension planning
  • Special needs planning
  • Guardianship
  • General estate planning
  • Assistance in finding caregivers/care-giving facilities
  • Resources for non-legal needs of the elderly and the disabled
  • Elder abuse
  • Nursing home negligence
  • Social Security disability
  • Medicare appeals and Medicaid litigation

It is worth noting that not all elder law attorneys address all aspects of elder law in their practice. To that end, it is worthwhile when you have an issue that falls under the elder law umbrella to ask the attorney if he or she includes the issue that needs to be addressed in his or her practice.

Avoid Common Estate Planning Pitfalls

Talking to the wrong person, attorney, family or friend can result in no advice or bad advice. Common well-intentioned advice may include things like, "Just put the kids' names on your bank account or your house," or "I'm sorry, but nothing can be done." You might end up with a power of attorney that does not address long-term care issues or the wrong type of special needs trust, or you might find out after the fact that veterans benefits might have been available had you been told about them. All of these things can have unanticipated disastrous results.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

While it may seem a long way away, because of the desire to protect assets and leave something behind for their heirs, it is imperative that people begin thinking about eldercare as early as 20 – 30 years before they may ever need it. This preparation includes:

  • Having all your estate planning documents in place – such as wills, living wills and powers of attorney.
  • Understanding that neither Medicare nor Medicaid will cover assisted living expenses. Medicare will not cover long-term care expenses in a skilled nursing facility. Medicaid is not earned – it is the welfare system for those who do not have the financial means to provide for their care. It is only available to those persons who medically qualify for skilled nursing services in a facility and in some cases in their home.
  • Looking at your financial situation and assessing whether you will have enough to take care of yourself and still protect your assets.

Ultimately, if we wait until someone is sick and in a crisis, an elder law attorney may still be able to help; but the options available become limited. The best chances for the most options in all areas of elder law planning are available to those persons who proactively plan.

Get Peace of Mind. Contact Our Elder Law Attorneys Today.

Everyone hopes to live a long and healthy life. Planning with an elder law attorney can give you and your family peace of mind in the event that life takes an unanticipated turn for you or for a loved one. For more information, call 412-281-5060 or send us an e-mail by completing the contact form on this website.

Below is a list of estate planning questions frequently, or most recently, asked by our clients. Our short and succinct answers will give you an understanding of the subject, but we invite you to speak to any of our estates and trust attorneys for additional information.

If my grandchildren are my beneficiaries, will my estate be subject to a larger transfer tax when I die?
Answered by: David G. Henry

What are special needs trusts?
Answered by: Heidi Rai Stewart

Who Gets What When You Have "Yours, Mine and Ours"?
Answered by: John M Hartzell, Jr.

What is the gift tax annual exclusion?
Answered by: Shannon L. Crew

How does an irrevocable life insurance trust reduce estate tax?
Answered by: Rebecca A. Winge

When must I begin to take distributions from my retirement assets?
Answered by: David G. Henry

Is a family owned businesses exempt from PA Inheritance Tax?
Answered by: Shannon L. Crew

What are the benefits of a family limited partnership (FLP) to a landowner who also holds the Marcellus Shale oil/gas rights?
Answered by: John M. Hartzell, Jr.

Will the beneficiaries named in my Last Will and Testament receive all of my assets?
Answered by: Rebecca A. Winge

Should I add my child as a joint owner of assets?
Answered by: Shannon L. Crew

Should I make provisions for my pet in my Will?
Answered by: David G. Henry

Can a child be held responsible for a parent's medical expenses?
Answered by: Heidi Rai Stewart

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