Ask the Expert: Planning Ahead for Long Term Care – Interview with Lauren A. Weldon, Elder Law Attorney, Margolis Weldon LLC

Lauren A. WeldonIf you’re just starting to think about planning long term care for a loved one, or are already in the midst of trying to juggle the management an estate, drafting a will, coordinating government benefits, and designating power of attorney, you may find the process overwhelming. And let’s face it,  without the right resources and guidance, it can be.
At Freedom Home Care, we believe you should never have to go through this process alone. We sat down with Lauren A. Weldon, Elder Care Attorney and partner at Margolis Weldon LLC  to learn more about how Elder law attorneys help seniors and their families transition into long term care.
What does an Elder Law Attorney do?
From age 18-118, we help clients with by creating the appropriate Powers of Attorneys, trusts, last wills, living wills, and HIPAAs.  We also assist seniors with government benefits (i.e. Medicaid and VA Aid and Attendance), guardianship, and probate.  
It’s never too early to plan for the future.  Whether it’s looking into long term care insurance or meeting with an estate planning or elder law attorney.  “The conversation” needs to happen because we know that life is unpredictable and throws us curve balls.  Having some sort of a plan is better than not having one at all.
Can you talk about your background, and how you decided to become an Elder Law Attorney?
I started law school knowing that I wanted to help people, but not knowing exactly how I would accomplish that. While at John Marshall Law School, I heard about the Elder Law Certificate program offered there. I contacted the director of the program and took a few classes. I found that practicing elder law allowed me to combine my desire to help people with practicing in an area that changes constantly.
What do you enjoy most, or find the most rewarding about working in elder law?
I love that I am able to truly make a difference for my clients. Many people come to me without a clue as to how to proceed or how to begin to solve an often overwhelming problem. I provide them with the education and empower them to help themselves.
What is the best advice you can give someone who is about to start the process of helping a loved one transition into long term care?
Plan early and often. It is never too early to start thinking about long term care. Two-thirds of the population will face a long term care crisis at some point. Talking with an elder law attorney can help you protect assets that you may not have known you were able to protect and receive benefits you may not have known you were eligible to receive.
Even if you already have your estate planning documents in place, if you haven’t reviewed them to make sure they are working for you to accomplish your goals, it is imperative that you do so while you’re still healthy (and competent). Estate planning documents are just that – documents. You need a plan in order to accomplish goals. Part of that plan includes having documents that work to help you accomplish your estate planning and long term care goals.
What are some of the best resources you have come across for helping with long term care transitions?
My partner, Matt Margolis, and I are very involved with the senior provider network throughout Cook, Lake and McHenry counties. We have trusted relationships with individuals and businesses who can help our clients with just about any issue they face.  So, we like to consider ourselves great resources as well in that sense.
What are some of the biggest challenges of working in elder law?
Knowing that the law frequently changes and often to the detriment of our clients.  Also, seeing so many families deal with hardships and challenges that could have been more easily avoided (or lessened) if they had planned ahead.  We try to get out in front of these challenges by educating the public through workshops and presentations, but in the end we’re only touching a fraction of those who need to know these things.
If you or someone you love is ready to start planning for a transition into long term care, contact Lauren at (847) 457-3377 today to learn more.