As I mentioned in previous posts, I recently retained an elder care lawyer and I really wish that I had done this 5 years ago. I thought of a lawyer as providing resources to help with estates, wills, probate, powers of attorney, etc. I never thought about a lawyer helping me to navigate the financial side and helping to create plans to finance mom and dad’s future. Even though it does cost to retain the lawyer, I feel that after what I have learned in the last 6 months, that I could definitely have saved part of their money and possibly their house if I had spoken to the correct person sooner.
I arranged for an initial conversation and agreed to pay a nominal consultation fee up front for that conversation. I took every bit of documentation that I had for mom and dad and our meeting lasted approximately 2 hours. We discussed, in detail, mom and dad’s financial situation, their living situation and what the future might hold. I was immediately encouraged to hear that there were possible avenues with SSI, Medicaid and VA Benefits that I was not aware of.
The initial suggestion from the lawyer was that he take everything that I had given him and that we had discussed and he would go over all of it and then we would meet in a week to talk about a plan for the future that would consist of short term and long term goals. Just the fact that someone had given me a glimmer of hope and that I would have someone knowledgeable guiding me lifted a great weight off of my shoulders. I left that meeting with a renewed sense of purpose.
The next week we met again and the short term solution was to get mom and dad financially separated so that their situations could be viewed as separate entities. That would legally allow mom to get benefits and slow down the drain from dad’s bank account. The next step would be to get dad’s VA benefits to help supplement his current monthly income so that the little money available would last them longer. These steps don’t take a rocket scientist to implement, but as most of you know, any government agencies and programs require convoluted, multiple steps to navigate through the process. The lawyer quoted me a one time fee to help me through all of the processes and I readily agreed. The fee was paid out of mom and dad’s account.
We have been working on the situation since November and we are slowly, but surely making some progress. I have not quoted fees or exact processes here, as they both will differ depending upon where you are, the law firm that you choose and your particular situation. I will very strongly recommend that if you are helping your parents, a spouse or your own situation that you speak with a reputable elder care lawyer for at least a consultation to see if they can help you with your individual situation. As I said earlier, I wish that I had done this several years ago, but I didn’t even understand that I needed help or that it was available. I think that is one of the hardest parts of dealing with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. There is a lot of information out there, but there is actually very little direct help and support. It can be a very lonely and scary process if you don’t know where to look for help.