“If you want to be genuinely kind, you have to be of actual benefit - nobody wants to be the recipient of “help” that isn’t really helpful - and you have to provide that benefit in a way that shows respect and empathy for the other person’s needs.”
Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Elder Law

Elder law is a special and separate legal practice area whose scope is defined by the clients served.  The special and especially complicated issue in elder law is that we consider the elder the client, even if or when that person appears to have diminished capacity to some degree.  (More traditional areas, like estate planning or contract law are defined by the tools used and the particular laws connected to it)

At Jan Zager Law, we have both the training and the love for elder law and complex multi-generational families.  We use a holistic approach and work with a variety of legal tools within a number of subject matter areas.  The call may come from a worried spouse concerned that one or the other’s declining abilities requires looking not only at decision-making and lifetime planning, but also the logistics of long-term care needs.  we advise and can coordinate the private and public resources necessary to finance this care and making sure that the care is high quality care.  Sometimes the initial call may come from a worried adult child who sees a parent struggling and is concerned about safety as well as financial issues.

Because of the relationships we have developed over the years with other practitioners and people who can assess need, locate, manage and provide services, Jan Zager Law can offer insight and services not found in traditional law firms.  We are concerned with issues arising right now as well as issues that we have the luxury of planning time. For example, we take action to deal with periods of serious illness or incapacity, to preserve independence, avoid impoverishment and---with integrity and clarity---to see if it is possible to take care of the elder while implementing their desire to pass their estate to loved ones.

Much of elder law involves the healthcare system.  A particular interest is making sure that elders get the full benefit of medicare, not just when they are receiving care outside of a hospital or skilled nursing facility, but when they are hospitalized or receiving rehabilitation services.  We also address the full range of possible government benefits that may be available to help pay long-term care costs such as medicaid, social security disability benefits, veterans’ pension and supplemental security income.  most of these programs are needs-based with strict limits on what assets a person can retain.  Some elders think it is necessary and the right thing to do to give away their assets in order to qualify for these benefits.  Gifting strategies are complex and require careful consideration and advice.  Substantial gifts to children or other loved ones can result in long periods of ineligibility for benefits, negative tax consequences, investment withdrawal penalties and loss of control of finances, as well as the loss of the gifted assets should the recipient divorce, have creditor problems or become estranged.

We also address protection issues---looking at whether guardianship is necessary, whether there has been negligence or exploitation, how to avoid legal emergencies at times when information and grieving are what is really important.