Different Types of Elder Law Attorneys
Elder law is focused on addressing the issues faced by people over the age of 55 and their families. The practice of elder law involves preparing each client to deal with the complex issues that arise as we grow older. There are also many legal options available to manage future age-related mental or physical disabilities-that are mentioned in this guide to elder care law. Elder law covers the following topics:
- Probate and Estate Administration
- Estate Planning
- Wills and Testamentary Trusts
- Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
- Living Trusts
- Durable Powers of Attorney or Health Proxies
- Guardianships for Minors or for Incapacitated Adults
- Living Wills or Health Directives
- Asset Management
- Contract Review
- Medicaid Assistance
- Real Estate Issues
- Retirement Planning
While an attorney that focuses on elder law will be able to help you with any of the above tasks, the two most important things an elder law attorney does is helping to create trusts and avoid probate.
When creating an estate plan, ensuring that your assets will be divided up and distributed to your family members, friends, or charitable organizations is one of the most important aspects of the process. Aside from wanting to secure your family’s financial future, creating specific DC trust documents will help you maximize tax benefits while also avoiding the costly and time-consuming probate process.
If you are looking to create a new trust or revise existing trusts, Antonoplos & Associates attorneys are here to help. Over the past two decades, we have worked to create thousands of individualized trust plans for our clients that have collectively saved them millions of dollars.
Helping you Decide On the Proper Trust
Many DC law firms will push a single package of DC trust documents that they are comfortable with during estate planning. However, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all trust. With over 20 years of experience, Antonoplos & Associates attorneys have the knowledge necessary to use a number of revocable, irrevocable, and specialized trusts available to cater to your individualized needs. Finally, our trust attorneys can help you determine the proper trust for your estate plan. We begin this process by explaining the differences between the following options:
- Spendthrift trusts
- Family trusts
- Living Trusts and wills
- Last will and testaments
- Charitable remainder trusts
- Life insurance trusts
- Qualified personal residence trusts
- Irrevocable trusts
- Offshore trusts
Our attorneys strive to understand your specific situation. As such, we work closely with your family in order to understand each and every detail associated with your estate. After we gather all the relevant information, we combine our legal, accounting, and tax knowledge to create DC trust documents that perfectly fit your needs and goals.
A probate lawyer can take care of or help the estate with many legal issues. However, the majority of what a probate lawyer does will largely depend on whether the estate going through probate has a will.
When There Is a Will
If someone dies with a will, a probate lawyer will typically focus on advising members of the estate such as the executor, personal representative, or beneficiary on legal issues. For example, a probate attorney might help the estate by reviewing the principal’s will to ensure that the principal did not sign or create the will under duress. This is a significant portion of the process as if someone challenges the will during the probate process, the court will have to stop what they are doing and have a formal hearing where they review the validity of a will.
When There is No Will
If someone passes away without creating a will, the person is said to have died “intestate.” If you die under the intestate definition, the administrator of the estate will have to distribute all the assets within an estate according to a state’s intestacy laws. If this occurs, the assets will not be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the principal’s wishes. For example, if the person who dies has a spouse, the spouse will likely receive all the estate’s assets. However, each state has different intestacy laws so the distribution of assets to family members could vary widely.
In cases of intestacy, a probate attorney will typically assist the administrator of the estate with distributing the assets within the estate according to the laws of the state. A probate attorney must still follow the state laws regarding the distribution of assets. However, having someone with knowledge of these laws is invaluable. The reason for this is that they can ensure that the assets are distributed and done so without breaking any state laws.
Finally, a probate attorney can help someone secure and file the documents required for a probate court to appoint someone as the administrator of the estate. For a court to name someone as the administrator of an estate, the person must secure “renunciations”. Renunciations come from the other relatives of the person that died. A renunciation is simply a legal statement renouncing one’s right to administer the estate.
Dealing with Creditors and Beneficiaries
A probate attorney can be especially helpful when dealing with creditors or other beneficiaries. Initially, the court appoints a personal representative to an estate. Once this occurs, a Notice of Appointment, Notice to Creditors, and Notice to Unknown heirs must be published by the personal representative in local newspapers where the principal of the estate lived. After this, creditors to the principal will have six months after the first publication to file claims against the estate. Once this period passes, creditors cannot bring forth claims. A probate attorney will help you notify creditors by ensuring that you make an informative ad and place the ad into the proper newspapers to avoid a creditor bringing litigation against you or the estate.
A probate lawyer can help you while you are dealing with creditors to an estate. However, they are even more useful when working with other beneficiaries of the estate. If everyone that is a beneficiary to an estate gets along, the process of distributing assets can be informal. In this scenario, a lawyer may not always be necessary. However, if you are a personal representative of an estate that has unsatisfied beneficiaries, a lawyer will be extremely useful to make or advise you on when to write letters, send emails, and make phone calls. By having a lawyer assist you with this portion of your duties, you will eliminate the opportunity for beneficiaries to bring forth any legal action against you.
Creating an estate plan for yourself or your family members is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your assets are protected and distributed in the event you pass away or become incapacitated. Without a properly completed estate plan, your assets will go through DC probate court. Not only is this process costly from associated legal fees, however, probate is also time-consuming. A probate court’s job is to gain information on how to distribute your assets. Furthermore, DC estate planning includes key documents that allow you to state your medical wishes in case you become incapacitated. This portion of the documents not only allows you to choose your care, however, it also takes the pressure off your family as they do not have to make life-altering. Our firm has many experienced DC lawyers providing elder law services to clients in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
DC estate planning is a major practice area at Antonoplos & Associates. As such, we have the comprehensive knowledge necessary to efficiently execute each required document and can help you move past any potentially difficult legal issues. Not only do our attorneys have over 20 years of experience with DC elder law services. However, we also merge our estate planning with our tax and accounting expertise. This allows us to give you high-quality services in a cost-effective effective manner.
Regarding elder law, many believe that the ideal solution is to put all money and assets in trusts. While many law firms may prescribe this plan, at Antonoplos & Associates, we give each client the individualized attention necessary. By doing so, other options may be explored that are more aligned with a family’s wishes.
Contact our DC Law Office for More Information
Finally, for more information regarding different types of elder law attorneys, contact us at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. Additionally, for general information regarding trust and estate law, check out our blog.