A Look at a Few of the Issues that Elder Law
Attorneys Deal with on a Day-to-Day Basis
WHAT IS AN ELDER
PAUL A. KRAFT
Indiana Estate Planning Attorney
What Is an Elder Law Attorney? www.FrankKraft.com 1
Elder law attorneys focus on matters that are of particular interest to senior
citizens. It is important to discuss the eventualities of aging with a licensed
professional if you want to be comprehensively prepared for the future.
Let's look at a few of the issues that elder law attorneys deal with on a day-to-
LONG-TERM CARE COSTS
When you work you are paying taxes, and part of what you pay goes toward
future Medicare coverage. Medicare is a government health insurance program
for senior citizens You gain eligibility by accumulating retirement credits. You
can earn up to four credits per year. If you have accumulated at least 40 credits,
you will qualify when you reach the age of 65.
In 2014 you get one credit for
every $1200 that you earn. If you
earn at least $4800, you get the
maximum four credits for 2014.
As you can see, the requirements
are rather modest. Most people
are going to pay taxes on a
minimal amount of income for at
least 10 years. As a result, the
majority of Americans qualify for
Medicare coverage at the age of
Medicare will help, but it does not cover everything. There are deductibles, co-
payments, and premiums that enter the picture. You should be prepared for
these out-of-pocket expenses.
The Medicare program does not cover long-term care at all. Living assistance is
considered to be custodial care. Custodial care is not covered. If you have to
stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility, Medicare won't help.
What Is an Elder Law Attorney? www.FrankKraft.com 2
Assisted-living costs are very high, and they have been rising by a few
percentage points annually. According to the Genworth 2013 Cost of Care
Survey, the median annual cost for a private room in a nursing home in Indiana
in 2013 was $85,775. A year in a private, one-bedroom unit in an assisted living
facility averaged $44,460.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tells us that most of the
adults in the United States will need living assistance eventually.
When you add all of these facts together you can see that it is likely that you
will need long-term care, Medicare won't pay for it, and it is very expensive.
Elder law attorneys assist clients who are concerned about long-term care costs.
Medicare won't pay for long-term care, but Medicaid will pay for it if you can
qualify. Many people are surprised to hear that Medicaid actually pays for the
majority of the long-term care expenses that are incurred by seniors. This is
true even though most of them were qualified for Medicare.
Medicaid is a need-based
program. You have to be able
to demonstrate significant
financial need to qualify. Many
people “spend down” in an
effort to meet the eligibility
Spending down involves
divesting yourself of assets in
advance of applying for
Medicaid. You have to
complete this spend down well
in advance of submitting your application, because there is a five year look back
period. If you give away assets within five years of applying for Medicaid, your
eligibility is delayed.
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Elder law attorneys have a thorough understanding of the Medicaid program
rules and regulations. They assist clients who want to take steps to preserve
assets with future Medicaid eligibility in mind.
To be prepared for the eventualities of aging you should consider possible
incapacity late in your life. You may be unable to make your own decisions
during your twilight years. Elder law attorneys help clients prepare for this
You can select people
of your own choosing
to make decisions on
your behalf in the
event of your
the execution of
durable powers of
attorney. Because they
are in fact durable,
they remain in effect
even if you become incapacitated.
If you don't think that you will ever become incapacitated, you should
understand some of the facts. According to the Alzheimer's Association, nearly
45 percent of people who are at least 85 suffer from the disease. One out of
every eight individuals who is at least 65 has contracted Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's can strip you of your decision-making capabilities. The existence of
Alzheimer's alone is enough to make incapacity planning a must. This being
stated, Alzheimer's is not the only cause of incapacitation.
What Is an Elder Law Attorney? www.FrankKraft.com 4
ELDER FINANCIAL ABUSE
Another pressing matter within the elder law community is that of elder financial
abuse. Untold tens of millions of dollars are lost every year due to instances of
abuse. It is difficult to know exactly how much is lost, because much of the
abuse goes unreported.
This is because the perpetrators of elder financial abuse are often family
members and other people who are known to the victims. The victims don't
report the abuse because they want to protect the perpetrators.
Elder law attorneys help people who want to install safeguards to protect their
There are certain eventualities that you may face as you get older. Elder law
attorneys assist people who want to prepare for them.
If you arrange for a consultation with a licensed elder law attorney, you can
learn the facts and take steps to protect yourself.
What Is an Elder Law Attorney? www.FrankKraft.com 5
About the Author
Paul A. Kraft
Paul Kraft is Co-Founder and the senior Principal of Frank & Kraft, one of the leading law
firms in Indiana in the area of estate planning as well as business and tax planning.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate
planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and
state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the
added perspective of an accounting background to his work.
In addition to his practice, Mr. Kraft has lectured extensively
in the areas of living trust planning, Medicaid planning, and
presenting public and private seminars on the importance of
proper estate planning. He has also authored various articles
on estate planning and is a contributing author of LEGACY:
Plan, Protect, and Preserve Your Estate–Practical Answers
from America’s Foremost Estate Planning Attorneys.
Mr. Kraft is a co-founder of the Indiana Network of Estate
Planning Professionals, a charter member of the AmericanAcademy of Estate Planning
Attorneys and a founding member of the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys. He is
also a member of the Indianapolis Bar Association, including the Taxation, Business Law and
Estate Planning sections; the Indiana State Bar Association, including the section on Taxation
Law; the Indiana CPA Society; and the Estate Planning Council of Indianapolis. Mr. Kraft is
admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of Indiana, U.S. District Courts, and U.S.
Frank & Kraft
A Professional Corporation
Attorneys at Law
135 N. Pennsylvania Street Suite 1100
Phone: (317) 684-1100
Fax: (317) 684-6111
What Is an Elder Law Attorney? www.FrankKraft.com 6