Someone asked me recently whether or not I use ‘boiler plate’ documents. Another person said “I need a trust”, without a real understanding of what a trust is and why it would be useful. There are many misconceptions about a work of an elder law lawyer, but under no circumstances should a lawyer use a ‘standard’ set of documents (even if such a thing existed). Below are only some of the issues that one must consider when formulating a plan of action:

  1. Is the elder law client married or single?

  2. Health circumstances of the client, and the spouse, if applicable.

  3. Is there an immediate need for a nursing home?

  4. Is the current living arrangement appropriate?

  5. All sources of income of the client and spouse.

  6. All resources of the client and spouse.

  7. Family dynamics. Are there children? Do any of the children or grandchildren have Special Needs? Do any of the children receive government programs? Do any of the children have creditor problems? Do any of the children contemplate a divorce in the near future?

  8. Is the client comfortable with relinquishing control in return for achieving tax or long term care savings?

  9. Veteran status.

  10. Does a client have long term care insurance?

There is no perfect solution that would be appropriate for everyone. That’s why I often do not recommend setting up trusts for my clients, if I do not see a necessity for having this unnecessary complication and if planning can be achieved through other means. On the other hand, a trust may be an absolute necessity in some circumstances. It helps to talk to an elder law attorney, to evaluate the different options, and to understand the implications of your actions.


Disclaimer: This article only offers general information.  Each situation is unique. It is always helpful to talk to a specialized attorney, to figure out your various options and ramifications of actions.  As every case has subtle differences, please do not use this article for legal advice. Only a signed engagement letter will create an attorney-client relationship.