At every stage of life there are different legal issues that must be addressed. As a senior citizen you will have very specific issues that will concern you. Having a basic understanding of these areas of law that may concern you during your retirement will allow you to always have a legal advantage.
Will and Trusts
As you enter your golden years, it is necessary to make plans about what will take place with your assets once you are gone.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that establishes what will happen with your assets and personal goods when you die. It will name heirs to your estate and it will provide you with a way to give specific assets and personal goods to specific people. Your Will may also contain information about you funeral and burial wishes.
Trusts are financial instruments that are used for tax and inheritance purposes by estate planners. There are many different types of Trusts that are available. You will need to sit with an attorney or a financial planner to determine which type of Trust will best fit your needs.
Estate planning is more than creating a Will and securing your financial assets in a Trust, it is about making sure that you have the right insurance policies in place, that your tax obligations are covered, and that you have enough money to live on throughout your retirement. Estate planning should be conducted with a professional for the best results.
How To Create A Will
Depending on the complexity of your estate, you may be able to create a Will at home in the privacy of your own home. There are many free fill-in-the-blank programs that will allow you to create a very basic Will. However, if you have a large or complex estate, like one where a personal business is involved, you will want to see the services of an attorney to have your Will completed.
For a Will to be considered valid, it must be signed in front of a Notary and have a minimum of two witnesses. In some States, three witnesses are required. It is very important to know the laws of your state regarding a Will before you prepare one yourself. Some states require Wills to be filed with the Court when they are made, others do not require a filing until the person passes away. As part of this process you might also want to consider providing a power of attorney to a trusted member of the family.
Elder Care Law
Elder care laws are laws that are directly related to senior citizens. These laws include, but are not limited to: Nursing Home Abuse, Financial Fraud Committed Against A Senior, Senior Intimidation, and False Imprisonment of a Senior and Elder Abuse.
There are specific legal resources that address each of these awful scenarios and many organizations that can help seniors who have been a victim of any of these crimes. Any crime that has been committed against you as a senior should be immediately reported to the authorities.
Nursing Home Abuse
One of the most heinous of these crimes is nursing home abuse. Seniors in their time of need are being hurt by the very people that are supposed to be caring for them. Nursing home abuse comes in many forms including:
• Dehydration and starvation
• Bed Sores
• Bruises and broken bones
• Injuries From Restraints
• Over Medication or Excessive Sedation
• Verbal Abuse
• Sudden Withdrawals From Ban Accounts Or Significant Purchases On Credit Cards That Cannot Be Justified
• Loss Of Person Property, Including Wedding Bands
• Revisions To Will, Trusts Or Other Legal Documents
If you have been abused, or suspect that your loved one is being abused in a nursing home facility, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney who will in turn notify the authorities.
Social Security Disability Law
If you are not yet of retirement age or receiving your Social Security Retirement benefits and you find that a medical condition has made it impossible for you to work, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance payments.
Social Security Disability (SSI) is a government assistance program that provides a monthly income for disabled people until they can return to work or reach retirement age. If they reach retirement age before they can return to work, the Social Security Disability payment will automatically convert into your retirement benefits.
You must meet certain qualifications for acceptance into this program, and many people may have to go through an appeals process before they are accepted. It is always in the best interest of someone applying for this program to use the assistance of a SSI attorney.
SSI Attorneys or Disability Lawyers
There are many attorneys that will dedicate their practice to representing people that are trying to be approved for disability payments. These attorneys know exactly how to prepare the paperwork for the government to apply for benefits and they know exactly what the government is looking for in your medical records to confirm the disability. With this knowledge, they are able to prepare successful applications for their clients.
It should be noted that the Social Security Office has stated that over 85 percent of all initial claims are denied by their office due to clerical errors in the paperwork or lack of medical evidence supporting the disability. If you are denied when you first apply, with or without the assistance of an attorney, you are entitled to an appeal.
Social Security Disability Attorney Fees
Seniors should not fear large legal expenses when using an attorney to help them apply for Social Security disability benefits. SSI attorneys work on a contingency fee. This means that they do not charge for their services until you are approved or benefits and receive a settlement from the government. Each person will receive a settlement at the time of their approval that pays the person all the benefits they should have received from the date of their initial application.
Social Security Appeals
If your initial application for benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal the findings of the Social Security Office. If you had not used an attorney before this time, it I wise to see the assistance of an attorney of Social Security Disability advocate. These professionals will be able to assist you with preparing and winning your appeal.
Social Security Advocate
There are many small businesses that specialize in helping people prepare disability paperwork and go through the appeals process. Most of these advocates are paralegals that have basic training in the legal process. Some of these advocates are part of a non-profit organization. All of these advocates can be beneficial to a senior, but it should be noted that they cannot provide any type of legal advice concerning this matter because they are not a licensed attorney.