Articles Posted in Elder Law

Aging is inevitable and, unfortunately, aging is also expensive. For many people, getting older means acquiring more medical needs and different life circumstances. Many of our clients, for example, transition to long-term care facilities or nursing homes once they get older. Planning financially for whatever might come your way can be tough, and as experienced elder law attorneys, we cannot underestimate the importance of making sure you are prepared for your elder years.


The state of Texas offers Medicaid for people who are elderly or have disabilities. The insurance covers long-term care services as well as basic health coverage. Individuals who are 65 and have limited financial resources qualify for Medicaid; meanwhile, those who are under 65 and think they might qualify can start gathering their necessary documents to submit when they do turn 65. More details about how to apply for Medicaid can be found here.

Long-Term Care Planning

Importantly, Medicaid covers long-term care, such as the cost of a nursing home, while Medicare does not. For those who do not qualify financially for Medicaid, Medicare will likely be the health insurance available at the age of 65. Given that Medicare does not cover the cost of long-term care, older individuals without Medicaid are left to pay for nursing homes out of pocket.

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The wide range of the internet and the increased interconnectivity of our society has led to an increase in financial frauds against the elderly. Older people lose $3 billion each year to financial scams, and more than 3.5 million individuals are impacted. People over the age of 60 are more vulnerable than other populations to scams, and individuals over 80 suffer even higher losses.

These scams can occur in a variety of ways. Sometimes, the elderly person is taken advantage of by a trusted friend or family member. In other situations, financial professionals and medical care providers abuse their position to commit these frauds. In other scenarios, complete strangers come into contact with elderly individuals through the internet or other means to perpetuate scams. While there is no limit to the ways your loved ones may be defrauded, the U.S. Department of Justice has identified several common scams to be on the lookout for.

Common Elder Fraud Scams

Many common scans involve fraudsters pretending to be representatives from federal agencies. For example, in a Social Security Administration imposter scam, victims are contacted via telephone and are convinced their social security numbers have been suspended because of suspicious or criminal activity. Victims will then confirm their social security numbers and even give imposters access to bank accounts, thinking it’s necessary for keeping their finances safe. Imposters use robocalls, caller ID spoofing, and U.S.-based money mules to convince victims of their legitimacy. Callers also use similar techniques to pretend to be the IRS, claiming victims owe substantial sums of money to the agency that they must pay quickly through wire transfers or gift cards. Victims who refuse are threatened with arrest or other official action.

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Medical emergencies, especially among aging individuals, can result in long-term rehabilitation and financial distress. Planning ahead for these emergencies is crucial, not only to preserve your assets and your independence but also to protect yourself from unscrupulous practices.

According to a recent article, a woman has filed a lawsuit alleging extensive financial fraud and abuse against a long-term elder care and rehabilitation facility. The woman, who lived alone and independently, entered the facility to recover from numerous medical issues after hospitalization. She alleges employees of the care facility repeatedly suggested that she get rid of her assets and live the remainder of her days in the nursing home facility, which she declined and insisted she did not wish to do.

After this refusal, she was placed on a cocktail of medications that put her under a fog, leading to hallucinations and confusion. It was then that she was coerced into signing a durable power of attorney agreement handing over control of all of her financial decisions to an officer of the care facility, whom the woman had never actually met. This officer kept her from seeing her family and eventually sold all of her assets, including her car, and listed her home on the market.

When a loved one begins to show signs of cognitive decline, it can become difficult to emotionally reconcile who they once were with who they are becoming. They also will need more assistance with many daily activities—this may include their ability to handle their finances. While it may seem like an uncomfortable or awkward subject to approach, loved ones of the individual in cognitive decline should help develop a financial plan as soon as possible. Below are tips that individuals should take into consideration when planning for the future with loved ones with cognitive decline.

Start the Process as Early as Possible

It is critical to begin financial planning with a person whose mental faculties are declining as soon as possible. This increases the likelihood that the person in cognitive decline can still explain their wishes and wants about their future with their family. By having these discussions, family members assisting with the process will be confident later on they are making decisions that the person would have wanted. The loved one can then express their preference about these financial decisions, including who they want to manage their finances, how to use their money to pay for their future expenses and the bounds of these expenses. A great first step is executing a durable (financial) power of attorney.

With more Americans than ever reaching retirement age, the number of people requiring long-term care will only intensify too. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 7 in 10 seniors are now expected to need long-term care before they pass away. However, the price of long-term care has only been increasing, making it more difficult for seniors to pay for this necessary service. Elder law attorneys can advise seniors and their loved ones on how to save for future long-term care expenses, along with potential senior housing options.

Are Long-Term Care Costs Increasing?

With more seniors requiring long-term care, the prices for these services have similarly increased. Recent data has shown that prices for nursing home care increased an average of 2.4 percent annually in the past ten years. In the same time period, home health care prices rose 11.1 percent. And these costs are only going to escalate further: per the National Health Expenditure, spending on home health care will climb 83 percent in the next ten years.
Additionally, these figures do not account for the unpaid care loved ones provide to seniors every year. Millions of individuals take care of their senior loved ones and are not paid for these services.

Paying for long-term care services is difficult enough for many families. In 2019, the average cost of a home health aide was over $45,000 per year, while placing a loved one in an assisted living facility costs a similar sum. On the other hand, nursing home care is, on average, double this price.

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As individuals in Texas get older, there are new issues they must face like obtaining long-term care and applying for benefits. All of these issues fall under the category of elder law. Elder law is an aspect of estate planning that focuses on the needs of individuals as they age. However, with many nursing homes closing, it has become even more imperative to plan ahead for long-term care. While this may be an overwhelming and scary concept, elder law attorneys are skilled at navigating these issues and ensure elders can obtain the care they deserve.

Big Shifts in Senior Living Care to Come

Five Star Senior Living—a major senior living business with over 1,500 retirement communities—has announced they will exit the skilled nursing business by the end of 2021. Instead, the business is shifting to smaller senior living communities that do not require the same elder care and skilled nursing capabilities. As more businesses like Five Star get out of the senior nursing facility business, it will become harder for elders to obtain long-term care.

As loved ones get older, their family often worries about them—both mentally and physically. One particular fear is their loved one being unduly influenced to do something they may not want to do. Seniors tend to be more susceptible to this undue influence because they are more likely to depend on others for daily activities like help with transportation and paying bills. While undue influence may be easy to name, individuals often have difficulty spotting it. Below are common questions and solutions to identifying undue influence and assisting Houston seniors who are in such a situation.

What Situations Increase Vulnerability and Who Can Exert Undue Influence?

While any adult can be a victim of undue influence, there are certain situations that increase a person’s vulnerability—and thus, their likelihood to be exploited. These situations include, but are not limited to, cognitive impairments, illness, isolation, and physical ailments. Because these circumstances increase a person’s dependency—as they need others to help them—it is more likely that an individual will exert undue influence on them.

It can often be disheartening when a loved one begins to wander, when they cannot remember their name and meander away from their home. Wandering is a risk associated with many conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Warning signs include forgetting how to get to familiar places, trying to “go home” when a person is already at home, and acting as if doing a chore, but getting nothing done. When this occurs, it can often become overwhelming and anxiety-inducing for caregivers. There are steps loved ones and caretakers can take to ensure their elderly loved ones are safe and constantly cared for as they wander. A Houston estate planning attorney can help families confront this difficult issue.

Make Sure the Person Always Carries Identification

While this will not prevent wandering, it helps ensure a lost loved one will be returned home. However, as a person can remove an ID from a wallet, giving an elderly loved one medical ID jewelry – like a bracelet or pendant – could help a loved one return safely in case they accidentally wander far from home.

As a person gets older, the legal issues they encounter differ from those that other people face. To address these needs, Elder Law is a relatively new practice area that focuses on the issues affecting the aging population, helping to prepare them, and their loved ones, for any future problems that might arise. As Elder Law deals with some of society’s most vulnerable people, attorneys who work in this practice area take into account the difficulties that accompany the aging process. The practice of Houston Elder Law encompasses many different areas of law. Below are some issues normally included within the practice of Elder Law.

Securing Senior Housing

Helping a senior transition to a new housing arrangement can often be difficult. Elder Law attorneys are often consulted to assess an elderly person’s situation and determine whether a nursing home or life care community is necessary. If a move to a nursing home is required, Elder Law attorneys will help explore all housing options, investigate nursing home quality and inform seniors of their patient rights.

2.7.20This time of the year is a great time to revisit your estate plan, so you can ensure your legacy is protected for years to come.”

Many of us set New Year’s resolutions to improve our quality of life. While it’s often a goal to exercise more or eat more healthily, you can also resolve to improve your financial well-being. It’s a great time to review your estate plan to make sure your legacy is protected.

The Tennessean’s recent article entitled “Five estate-planning steps to take in the new year” gives us some common updates for your estate planning.

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