Elder Law and Special Needs

Elder Law encompasses the legal issues affecting senior and people with disabilities. While an Elder Law attorney is trained and experienced in Estate Planning and Administration, she is also trained to help families cope with some of the more day-to-day issues that our older generation, and their caretakers, face such as long term care planning, asset management and preservation, catastrophic illness, and the protection against elder abuse. Our Elder Law attorneys can provide you with information and makes suggestions to help guide you to appropriate solutions. Additionally, we can prepare a written plan specific to your family’s needs, providing you with time and cost saving strategies. Our Elder Law practice includes these specific areas:

Long Term Care Planning

With the costs of long-term nursing home care averaging well over $5,000 per month in the State of California, and often more than that in the San Francisco Bay Area, working with an Elder Law attorney knowledgeable about cost-saving alternatives is critical. Our Elder Law attorneys will help your family assess the options to improve your ability to privately pay for such care and what other benefit programs might be available to you through Medi-Cal, the VA (Veteran’s Administration), and other programs. We will also help you avoid unnecessary taxes and possible penalties.

Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trusts, if drafted, funded and administered properly, are trusts that allow a disabled or special needs trust beneficiary to safeguard assets, inheritance, settlements, and gifts. Special Needs Trust may allow a person to remain eligible for means-tested government programs such as Medi-Cal, SSI, and IHSS while preserving their assets. Further, Special Needs Trusts can also to manage assets for a beneficiary who is unable to manage the assets for themselves.

Conservatorships & Guardianships

Conservatorships are established to manage the estate and/or personal and medical care of an incapacitated person. A Conservator is appointed by the court to inventory and value the estate as well as to pay the expenses of the Conservatee. The Conservator must file detailed accountings with the court and may decide where the Conservatee will live and, if a court order so specifies, what medical care the Conservatee will receive. Conservatorships are legal proceedings that have very technical requirements and procedures, and can be very time consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing to administer. Proper estate planning can help avoid a Conservatorship for many, but not all, individuals.

Guardianships are similar to Conservatorships but apply to minors in the State of California. If you do not appoint a Guardian in writing and become incapacitated or deceased, the State of California may make the selection of a Guardian for your minor children. Preparing a proper estate plan can help avoid court involvement in the event of your incapacity or death.

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