Elder Law 101

Elder Law 101

Elder law encompasses a wide range of practice areas, including long-term care planning, asset protection, estate planning, and more. Generally, elder law is concerned with making sure you are adequately prepared to deal with the medical, financial, and legal challenges that will come up as you grow older.

Just because elder law involves issues you will face when you age, that doesn’t mean you should wait to plan!

Why is it so important to prepare for the high cost of long-term care? Consider the following statistics:

  • Approximately 50% (one in two) of all women and 25% (one in four) of all men will live in a nursing home at some point in their lives;

  • Nursing home care in the D.C. metropolitan area costs well above the national average;

  • The cost of long-term care is expected to rise dramatically in the future;

  • It has been estimated that 66% (two-thirds) of all families run out of money within one year of entering a nursing home.

With a properly designed elder law plan, you can protect your life savings against the cost of long-term care, and provide you and your family with peace of mind for whatever the future holds.


Pre-planning is for people who are currently healthy but want to make sure they are ready for the extraordinary costs involved in obtaining long-term care if they do become incapacitated. The goal of pre-planning is to protect your assets and manage your affairs in the event something happens to you or your loved one. By having a proper plan in place, you won’t have to use all of your income or deplete most or all of your assets to become eligible for Medicaid assistance, and you can still be cared for in the event of incapacity.

Life Care Planning

Life care planning combines asset protection and estate planning with care coordination and placement to help you or your loved one to get the best care possible without losing a home or life savings. A large part of life care planning involves protecting assets to make sure other benefits can be used to help pay for better care, whether that care is at home, in an assisted living community, or in a nursing home.

With an adequate plan, you or your loved one receives the right care sooner, maximum independence for as long as possible, and the ability to age while retaining the highest possible level of dignity and quality of life. Additionally, your plan will guide your family on legal and long-term care decisions, and provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing you or your loved one are safe, secure, and getting the best care available.

Medicaid Planning

There is a lot of misinformation out there about Medicaid. It is not a welfare program, but rather an entitlement program. Medicaid is intended to pay for your nursing home care (and sometimes in-home care). In every state, there is an asset limit that you have to meet in order to qualify for benefits. However, there are many legal strategies that you can use to position your assets in such a way that they are protected, while you or your loved one still meet the strict guidelines and qualifications for Medicaid benefits.

Medicaid planning is the process of positioning and protecting assets from having to be “spent down” in connection with nursing home care or in-home care, while also helping you or your loved one maintain the highest quality of life and get the best care possible, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home.

For more information on Medicaid and Medicaid planning, see our Medicaid Basics Series.

Long-Term Care Crisis

A long-term care crisis is a situation where an individual has already been admitted to an assisted living facility or nursing home, or will be placed in one very soon, but presently possesses too many assets to qualify for Medicaid assistance. Unfortunately, the information provided by well-meaning friends, social workers, nursing home intake staff, and Medicaid workers is often wrong, partially wrong, or outdated.

If you or a loved one is faced with a long-term care crisis, it is important to act quickly, even if you have been denied assistance in the past. Do not give up and assume you are ineligible.

For more information and FAQs about Elder Law, read our Elder Law Blog.

Contact a Wayside Legal Elder Law Attorney Today

Wayside Legal LLC is an award-winning law firm located in North Bethesda, Maryland, with experience handling elder law issues in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia. If you are facing a situation where you need assistance with long term planning, contact a Wayside Legal attorney today for a consultation to discuss your specific elder law issues.