Columbus Elder Law Attorney
There are a number of legal issues that can arise as you grow older, such as having a will or trust, frequently the need to navigate probate proceedings, or collect Social Security benefits. At Mary Ellen Leslie & Associates, we are uniquely qualified to help you with multigenerational family issues. Ms. Leslie was a stay-at-home mother until the youngest of her five children graduated from college, at which point she took steps to become a lawyer. She enrolled in college, earned her B.A. degree in 1997, and went on to law school, graduating in 2001. She passed the bar and was admitted to practice in 2001. While finishing her last semester of law school, and awaiting the results of the bar exam, Mary Ellen earned a graduate certificate in Gerontology from the University of Akron. In addition to serving as an elder law attorney, she assists clients who need guidance in family law matters.Elder Law
Elder law involves issues such as wills, trusts, and Medicaid planning. Ms. Leslie can assist you with your estate planning so that you can develop concrete plans for your future before medical issues force your family or you to make emergency decisions. She also can assist you with developing a plan to help your family in caring for and protecting an aging loved one. A plan can address situations in which long-term disabilities or illnesses arise, and it can provide a method for paying for either home health care or a nursing home if your health deteriorates with age. Often, Medicaid issues enter the equation, and an elder law attorney in Columbus can help you account for them as part of planning. Medicaid is a federal program administered by the state. You need to perform Medicaid planning five years before you need these benefits. Often, family members are called upon to make challenging and emotional decisions. If they cannot make those decisions, it may be helpful to go through mediation.Wills
A will can be a critical component of estate planning. If you do not create a will, your assets will pass according to the rules of intestacy, which may not be what you would have wished to have happen. For example, you may want a certain person to receive a certain asset with emotional significance to them, but that person may not have a right to receive the asset under intestacy laws. A last will and testament tells an executor or administrator to distribute your assets according to what the will says. You must meet certain formal requirements for a will to be found valid and admitted into probate. The probate process must be gone through in order to make sure that the distribution happens according to your wishes as set forth in the will. A living will and Health Care Power of Attorney instructs your treating doctor through designated contacts on the medical care that you would want to receive, in the event that you are unable to communicate on your own.Trusts
A trust is a legal arrangement whereby the owner of property transfers legal title to a trustee, and the property’s equitable title or economic benefit is transferred to beneficiaries. A Columbus elder law attorney can assist you with drafting this instrument. Since a trustee holds and administers the property for the trust beneficiaries, the trustee is required to act with loyalty, good faith, and impartiality. Trusts are often a good option for managing assets during a person’s lifetime and also upon the person’s death. They can include a provision for a child or family member with special needs. However, the language and design of the trust should take into account that direct distributions to people eligible for governmental assistance could interfere with or prevent that assistance. There are many different types of trusts to consider. A trust may be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust allows the assets of the grantor (the person making the trust) to remain in the grantor’s estate, while an irrevocable trust permanently transfers the assets outside the estate. While retaining the ability to alter or cancel a trust may seem attractive, creating an irrevocable trust offers certain tax and liability advantages. This decision will depend on your specific needs.Probate
Probate is a legal process involving property that occurs after someone dies, whether or not there is a valid will in place. When a decedent dies without a will (intestate), Ohio’s intestacy laws will determine how their assets are distributed. Probate may not be needed after somebody dies, and it depends on the assets owned by the decedent. Probate commences with the appointment of somebody to administer the will and distribute the assets. Often, a decedent already will have named the personal representative in the will. If the decedent has not, the court or the clerk of court must appoint somebody, who will need to gather all of the decedent’s assets, pay his or her bills, and distribute the remainder.Mediation
In addition to serving as a Columbus elder law lawyer, Mary Ellen Leslie is a trained mediator who can assist parties in reaching an amicable resolution to a dispute. Mediation can be a less expensive, more efficient alternative to litigation. It can result in a compromise with which each party is content, even if they do not completely achieve all of their original goals. Mediation is different from some forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration, since the mediator does not have the authority to impose a certain result on the parties. The mediator also will not advocate for either party, as an attorney would. Instead, the mediator will serve as a facilitator during the discussion between the parties. The mediator may advise each party on the strengths and weaknesses of their position, help them narrow the issues in dispute, and propose possible solutions. If the mediation succeeds, the parties may sign a mediation agreement that becomes binding on each party, similar to a contract.Consult a Skillful Elder Law Lawyer in Columbus or Surrounding Areas
Elder law matters can be sensitive and complex. If you need to develop an estate plan, apply for government benefits, or go through probate, you should consult Mary Ellen Leslie & Associates. Ms. Leslie represents people in Franklin, Medina, and Summit Counties, as well as the Akron area. Call us at (614) 855-3126 or contact us online for a free consultation to discuss your needs.