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Lots of people don't think small town lawyers are much good, but my mom had all of her papers drawn up by a small town lawyer. Her will, POA, Warranty Deed to transfer the property to me, her life estate, etc. I know this lawyer very well but I've held off talking to him because he doesn't advertise Elder Law. On the flip side, he has done lots of estate planning for people around here.


Do I need to seek out a lawyer that specifically advertises 'Elder Law' or would it be fine to just talk to this small town lawyer? What could an Elder Law Attorney do for me that he couldn't do?


My mom is 96 with Alzheimer's/dementia and she refuses to go to a nursing home. We had someone come to see if they could upgrade the bathroom but they said it would be pointless to do because of how the house was built. There is a narrow doorway and passage with a couple sharp turns to get to the bathroom that her walker won't fit through. It's impossible for her to get to her bathroom by herself, so he suggested selling the house and renting her an apartment that's more accessible.


I have to get help whether she likes it or not because I can't get her into her bathtub safely by myself then when the caregivers from the agency try to get her into her tub, she screams and hollers because she is afraid they will drop her. She hates going to her bed, she wants to sleep in her chair, she was doing it for maybe 6 years before I moved in. She fights changing clothes. Last week when the caregiver came to help with her bath, my mom threw her out. She said, "I'm not taking no bath so you can just leave".


My point is, with her dementia, her care is going beyond my abilities, she's been on Medicaid Waiver for home care since December and she will be on regular Medicaid if she goes to the nursing home. I can't see her being able to stay in her home for another 6 months, but I could be wrong. I don't want to move her to an apartment just so she can spend 2 months there then go to a nursing home.


In my situation, do I really need an 'Elder Law' Attorney? What would I ask him to do and what questions should I ask?

You need power of attorneys for medical and financial to take care of your mother's affairs. From an RN point of view, it appears your mom could use a little anti-anxiety medication to calm her agitation. It also appears she may be at a point where memory care placement may be her best option.

A lawyer that specializes in elder care will know the documents you need to care for your mom as well as applications for memory care, Medicaid, and other things for while your mom is living. An estate lawyer helps make plans for your mother's estate for after her death.
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Reply to Taarna
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There is an organization of CERTIFIED ELDER LAW ATTORNEYS...Because this has become so specialized they are the best at dealing with all this stuff. And planning in the best way to protect assets and make sure all the t's are crossed so to speak. That's not to say what has been thus far isn't acceptable or right, but it is a tricky business and your investment now to at least have what the other lawyer did reviewed, could save you much grief and possibly $$ in the future. And beware: The first attorney my family used was supposed to be good and certified etc. She screwed up something big time and luckily the 2nd attorney I found because I had bad vibes about the first, found the goof and we paid to fix it.
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Reply to gdaughter
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You say your Mom doesn't want any placement, and so few elders do want it. Are you her POA? Because unless she is competent it is now too late to appoint one. If you wish to become her guardian or conservator then you will require doctors letters that Mom is no longer competent to act in her own best interests. These you can take to the competent lawyer in your area. He should also be able to help you with answers as far as the medicaid goes, or the social worker currently involved would be perhaps you best first contact (and a free contact). I don't see you need a specialist attorney and sure wouldn't be paying 500.00 off the bat to someone when it isn't clear what issues you really want to address. I wish you good luck and trust your lawyer who has done a lot of elder work to know if you need someone more specialized. If you need guardianship for your Mom any lawyer can walk you through that process, but step one is the Doctor recommend that Mom needs placement and isn't competent to choose for herself.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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SG, are you looking for an attorney to help you apply for Medicaid?

I would search for one that lists themselves as a Medicaid specialist.

I would go to your state attorney general website and look at the paperwork you have versus what they have on their website. You can tell if the ones you have meet the legal requirements, the forms on the AGs website do in fact, regardless of what anyone says, do meet all the legal requirements for your state. I used them for my dad and I did not have any problems whatsoever, they cost me ink for my printer and 10 bucks for a notary.

You can also search for what you are questioning. I assume you want to know how to deal with the life estate and how you can put her in a NH. These answers are available if you are willing to spend the time reading and researching.

You can search for certified elder law attorney's in your area at www.nelf.org. I wouldn't bother with one that isn't certified personally. They tend to be cheaper because they deal with this stuff every day, it's their specialty.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Hi! If you have a good lawyer who you know works well with elders, it may be pure luck about whether the lawyer chose to put ‘elder law’ on his list of expertise. Unless you have a very difficult situation (eg a dysfunctional family and litigation in all directions), I’d ask first with the guy you know.

If you think your bathroom issues will only last a short time (you say a couple of months?), there are washing options that might bridge the gap. Traveling in India 50 years ago, simple hotels had a bathroom with a tank of water next to an area with a drain, and with a little wall around the edge. You soaped yourself, and then sluiced off with dippers of water. I’ve done the same sort of thing many times when camping, with a mug as a dipper and a bucket of water, but of course without drain problem. If you could manage the drain issue, that might work. A big floppy sponge could be easier to manage than the dipper of water.

There is no importance in a bed vs a chair, the important thing is sleep. There is no importance in a bathroom vs a makeshift arrangement, as long as there is reasonable cleanliness.
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Reply to MargaretMcKen
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I'm confused -- I don't see anything in your question that requires an attorney of any kind.

If you have the power of attorney for your mom and she's not competent to handle her own affairs, then you're good to go.

Why do you think you need an attorney's advice?
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Reply to MJ1929
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Edit: yes there is a difference. I have had to deal with 1 horse attorneys before and I found them quite knowledgeable, because they can't just refer everyone to a specialist attorney.

No, you do not need an elder law attorney. Everything that they could do has been done.

What you need is a facility that will help you with the transfer from home to facility. Some will tell you to get her there and they will deal with her, others will tell you that they can't take someone that is apposed to being there.

Call around and ask them how they would recommend getting someone that is to much for home care and refuses to leave her home. They are the professionals and should be able to help you on a local level.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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SGeorge24 Feb 20, 2021
Everyone tells me I need an Elder Law Attorney, but I've searched and searched. I did find one who is 90 miles from me and he wants $500 to review my mom's papers. I don't think the small town lawyer would charge me too much just to answer a few questions and tell me what I can and can't do. I just wish I knew more about Medicaid, but there are maybe 100 offices in this state. When I applied for Pass Chore that was one office and that was a mistake because my mom was only approved for 4.5 hours per week and they wouldn't pay an agency. I then had to go back and apply for Medicaid Waiver which was in a different building. The office that approved me to take care of my mom was a different office than what approved my mom. If my mom goes into a nursing home, that's a different office. Bills are sent to a different town. Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) has it's own office in yet another town and the office that approved my mom has no clue how MERP works. They won't even tell you all the Medicaid programs my mom should apply for, they make you find out on your own.
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