FAQ

  • Elder law is a recognized area of law regulated by the National Elder Law Foundation. Elder law focuses on the counseling and representation of persons who are older or persons with special needs. As an elder law firm, Elder Law of East Tennessee devotes all firm resources to the practice of elder law. We help clients with the legal aspects of health and long-term planning, estate planning (wills, powers of attorney, advance directives, and trusts), public benefits like Medicaid or Veterans benefits, decision-making for someone who lacks capacity, and conserving, disposing of, or administering trusts and estates. A practice in elder law helps individuals and families plan for the future and avoid costly financial missteps or disputes in court. Elder law of East Tennessee is proud to be an elder law firm. And, with a focus on Life Care Planning, Elder Law of East Tennessee also coordinates legal planning with health care planning to ensure the elder or person with disability has a well-rounded plan that brings the whole family peace of mind.

  • The National Elder Law Foundation is the only national certifying program for elder law and special needs attorneys.  The organization has approved over 400 CELAs across the US, and most leaders in national organizations such as LCPLFA and NAELA are CELAs.  The purpose of the certification is to “identify those lawyers who have the enhanced knowledge, skills, experience, and proficiency to be properly identified to the public as certified elder law attorneys.”  To become a certified elder law attorney (CELA), Ms. Crotwell had to complete a rigorous full-day examination and demonstrate that her practice is actually focused on special needs and elder law.  She has been certified for over 5 years.  A CELA has proven expertise in special needs and elder law and is positioned to help individuals and families address concerns related to estate planning, public benefits, and paying for care.

  • Some special elder law firms employ dedicated care coordinators as part of their services to their clients.  This approach stems from the very real truth that caring for an elder’s person and well-being is as important as caring for their assets and legacy.  This care-focused approach gave rise to a new type of elder law practice called Life Care Planning, which combines legal, financial, and care planning for aging and disability. There are about 80 law firms in the US affiliated with the Life Care Planning Law Firms Association, the national network of holistic law practices.  Life Care Planners believe that a legal and financial plan should be built around care needs and how those might change over time.  To properly address care needs, a Life Care Planning law firm employs social work or other health care professionals, called “care coordinators,” to assess and satisfy clients’ current and future care needs and to work with the attorney to determine qualification for public benefits or gain access to other valuable community resources.  Care coordinators also help to relieve caregiver burden and ensure the elder or person with special needs receives the best care possible using all available resources.

  • No.  We help people of all ages.  Elder Law of East Tennessee helps elders planning for their own needs, families planning for the legal and care needs of special needs individuals (including minors), and people in the “sandwich generation” who may need to establish their own estate plans or who are facing caregiving responsibilities for an elder or special needs loved one.  We also provide estate planning services to adult individuals of all ages.  Our client base extends beyond elders and includes family members or other loved ones who need support.

  • Sooner rather than later.  If you are an adult, you should have at least a basic estate plan in place, regardless of how much or how little you own.  Rarely is any person’s situation so “simple” or “straightforward” as to make estate planning unnecessary.  As you age, establishing a customized estate plan that takes your family’s financial and health situation into account becomes increasingly important.  Don’t wait for a crisis to strike you or your loved ones; plan ahead so that when the unexpected happens, you are not caught completely off guard.

     

    The ideal time to invest in a Life Care Plan is when you anticipate growing care needs but have time to think through your options and make a sound decision.  If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with a long-term medical condition, have experienced a fall or other distressing medical event, or are thinking about making a change in housing conditions, you will benefit from a Life Care Plan.  The Life Care Plan serves as your road map for the future, guiding you through changing circumstances and allowing you to make the best informed decisions for your or your loved one’s care and finances.  The sooner we start creating your map, the more frustration and money you may save over time.

  • Online forms for wills, powers of attorney, or other legal documents may appear to be an inexpensive alternative to consulting an attorney for a sound plan.  But, you get what you pay for.  You risk creating unintended and often expensive complications and consequences.  Paying an attorney to draft your documents is an investment, but it is a worthwhile investment that pays off because it will be a sound plan that works for you, considers your priorities, and accomplishes your goals. 

  • The short answer:  probably not during your lifetime if you live in it or intend to return to it.  But at your death, the home will be subject to a program called “Estate Recovery.”  When you apply for Medicaid, the state is required to inform you about this program.  All is not lost, however.  There are methods available to plan around estate recovery if you are planning to seek benefits or already on benefits. To take advantage of these methods, you should do that planning early with a qualified elder law attorney at your side.  That is the way you can avoid those pitfalls and protect what’s important to you:  your homestead, your access to care, and your family’s financial well-being.

  • Planning is the key.  Many strategies are available to those who plan well ahead for care needs and other challenges of aging.  These strategies can save our clients tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars while ensuring the elder or loved one with disability has all care needs met.  Planning before a crisis occurs is a key component to saving money.  But even if that crisis is here, there continue to be options available to save you money. 

  • The savings outweigh the cost.  You may think the expense of legal services will be too steep to make planning worthwhile, but in the long run, Elder Law of East Tennessee’s coordinated legal and financial planning strategies can save your family tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In addition to financial savings, your family will save time and energy by allowing us to help shoulder the burden of planning for aging and disability.

  • We value your time and ours.  We provide information and education to assist you going forward.  Your initial consultation at Elder Law of East Tennessee lasts for two hours, and we cover a lot of ground.  You will learn about valuable estate and asset protection strategies that can save you and your family tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Even if you do not retain us for additional services, the time you spend with a knowledgeable, experienced elder law attorney helps prepare you to address the challenges you and your family are facing now or in the future.