Elder Law involves representing, counseling and assisting seniors, individuals, and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues. The Law Offices of Michelle C. Berk, P.C. take a holistic approach to the practice of law that focuses on the individual and their needs. Our extensive background in Elder Law, Estate Planning, Estate Administration & Probate and Disabilities Law and in the general practice of law enables us to meet your needs.
The Long term care planning we do for you and your family results in the preservation of assets. Whether in conjunction with the Veterans Administration or Medicaid or other governmental benefits our office can obtain for you, or through proper care planning and guidance, we can preserve assets for the next generation while making sure seniors’ care needs are met.
Many people think the term “estate planning” applies only to very wealthy people but nothing is further from the truth. An “estate” is simply what you own. If you own property, you need to plan ahead in order to make sure the desired people or charities inherit your property after your death. Due to a law known as “intestacy law”, if you die without planning your estate, your home, money, and other property will be distributed to various relatives, sometimes even distant relatives, who may not have your final wishes in mind.
Dementia or other progressive mental, emotional, or physical illnesses can rob people of the ability to manage for themselves. For an individual to require a guardian, he/she must be found incapacitated and unable to manage financial resources or meet essential requirements for physical health and safety. To provide a decision-maker for people in these situations, Pennsylvania Law allows the Orphans’ Court to appoint a guardian of the person and/or a guardian of the estate. We advocate for the very best outcome in this unfortunate situation.
Elder Law and Long-Term Care Advocacy
There are many options when searching for long-term care for a loved one. There are Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and Personal Care Homes. Alternatively, there are home and community based services that offer viable options to placement. Each option comes with their own list of pros and cons, so make sure you ask the right questions when trying to decide. We review the contracts for your protection. Click on the links below to learn more about each option, and for a list of recommended questions to ask each establishment before deciding.
VA Benefits Planning
There are a variety of federal benefits available to veterans and their dependents. Eligibility depends upon individual circumstance. A few of the benefits available are: Veterans’ Health Care which grants benefit packages of in-patient and out-patient services, including limited nursing home care, adult day healthcare, homeless programs, surgery, and mental healthcare. Veterans are also able to receive benefits under The Veterans’ Uniform Benefits Package and Medicare which emphasizes preventative and primary care. In addition to the following two benefits, Veterans are eligible for Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Special Pension, a benefit that is largely unknown. This program allows for surviving spouses to receive help in nursing homes or other facilities receive monetary benefits for home health care.
Medicaid is a state administered federal program that helps pay for long-term care. Under certain circumstances, Pennsylvania Law allows individuals or their spouses to keep their homes and their money without becoming ineligible for Medicaid benefits. However, laws are extremely complicated. Medicaid planning should not be attempted without the assistance of an Elder Law attorney experienced in Medicaid Law.
Ownership of real estate impacts Elder Law, Estate and Special Needs Planning and Estate Administration and Probate.
Purchasing or selling a home can be one of, if not the most expensive and stressful transactions you will ever be involved in. Whether for yourself or your parents, or, if you are serving as a caregiver, there are many important ramifications and legal considerations you can consult us about to save money, prevent problems and streamline the transaction. Real Estate transactions are an integral part of the Elder Law and the Estate Planning process and we can guide and assist you.
Having a lawyer review an Agreement of Sale and consulting with them can prevent many costly mistakes in the future. We can help before you get to the settlement table. A lawyer should be contacted as soon as a transaction is even contemplated to properly structure the sale or purchase to protect yourself and your family.
Deeds should be prepared by a lawyer, as should other conveyancing documents. Before you consider making any changes to the ownership of real estate you should consult with a lawyer to explore all the options and results that may occur.