May 10, 2016 | lmsXpect3 President John F. Kennedy first named May “Senior Citizens Month” in 1963. The name of the month changed to “Older Americans Month” in 1980 at the behest of President Jimmy Carter. The month celebrates the contributions of older adults to our nation and is used as an opportunity to raise awareness about issues facing older adults. More recently, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, a group of attorneys catering to the legal needs of seniors and people with disabilities, declared May “National Elder Law Month” as a way to educate older Americans and their families on important legal issues. “Elder law” is a term that encompasses numerous areas of the law. Medicaid Medicaid is a federal government run health insurance program for low-income individuals and families who cannot afford their own health care and meet a number of other requirements. Since Washington accepted federal Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in 2013, many more people have access to Medicaid. Over 1,700,000 people in Washington are now covered by Medicaid, leading to a 40 percent reduction in the state’s uninsured rate from 2013 to 2014. Qualifying for Medicaid benefits can be far more complicated than just filing an application. An elder law attorney can save you time and money by advising you whether you meet the requirements for Medicaid, what you can do to become eligible, and how you can protect your assets. An attorney can also help you set up a long-term health care strategy that can help pay for prescriptions, assisted living, and end of life care. Planning for the Future Though everyone needs a plan for what will happen with their assets after their death, older Americans particularly need to ensure that their estate plans are up to date. A carefully crafted will or trust can save the estate money by minimizing tax liability, protect money for the benefit of beneficiaries, or help your estate avoid probate. If you’re above 65 and haven’t yet put together a healthcare directive or healthcare power of attorney, the time is now, while you’re in good health. These documents allow you to control your healthcare, even while you are unable to speak, and provide assistance for your family and friends as they deal with the difficult decisions surrounding your life and death. Contact an Experienced Elder Law Attorney Celebrate National Elder Law Month and protect your interests by contacting Dan Kellogg, an experienced elder law attorney at (425) 227-8700. He is able to help you throughout each step of the way.