North Carolina Elder Law

Serving Clients throughout Wilmington North Carolina and the Surrounding Areas


Seniors face complex legal concerns that are often different from what they faced when they were younger. Actions taken may have unintended legal effects. As a senior or someone who’s helping make decisions for a senior, it’s important that you work with an attorney who is an expert in Elder Law – a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Attorney Lisa Salines-Mondello is one of less than 500 attorneys in the country who has earned and holds that designation.

Elder Law encompasses many different fields of law. An Elder Law attorney specializes in how to best use their knowledge to fit the needs of seniors. Some of these fields include:

  • Preservation of Assets;
  • Probate, Estate, and Trust Administration;
  • Estate Planning;
  • Disability and Incompetency Planning;
  • Guardianship;
  • Medicaid/Nursing Home Planning;
  • Public Benefits Advice;
  • Special Needs Counseling and Trusts;
  • Veteran Benefit Planning;
  • Elder Abuse and Fraud;
  • Will Contests;
  • Housing Issues;
  • Litigation and Administrative Advocacy in connection with any of the above matters.

Senior Housing & Long-Term Care Options


The Long Term Care Dilemma

As our population ages, more and more of us confront elder law-related issues, whether for ourselves or our parents. One of the most pressing issues is long-term nursing home care, which usually is not covered by traditional health insurance. Depending on where you live and the level of care needed, nursing home care can cost from $35,000 to $150,000 a year. The average stay is slightly more than three years. Most people end up paying for nursing home care until their personal (or family) assets are depleted, then they may qualify for Medicaid to pick up the cost.

Careful planning, however, can help protect your assets, whether for your spouse or for your children. The belt-and-suspenders approach is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are healthy enough to qualify, and to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled under Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare

Clients are frequently confused over the differences between Medicare and Medicaid. Though their names are very similar, the programs are quite different. Medicare is an entitlement program, a federal health insurance program in which most people enroll when they turn 65 years old. There are no financial qualification rules. Medicare has two primary parts: Part A and Part B.

Medicare Part A covers in-hospital care, extended care after a hospital stay, some home health care services, and hospice services. The rules for nursing home coverage are very strict and, in fact, Medicare pays for less than 9 percent of nursing home care in this country.

North Carolina Medicaid

Medicaid, is a joint federal-state program, subject to certain federal requirements, each state implements its own regulations on how the program is managed. Medicaid is not an entitlement program like Medicare, but rather a form of welfare. Medicaid eligibility is determined after the proper application is submitted to the state. There are many Medicaid insurance programs available in North Carolina, from basic medical coverage to nursing home programs.

The North Carolina Division on Aging provides a wealth of information for seniors and caregivers.

We assist seniors and their families in making the tough decisions regarding long-term care planning, including whether Medicaid eligibility may be an option.

Senior Housing Options

Helping a parent move to senior housing can seem more intimidating than orchestrating a rocket launch. The death of a spouse, declining health or safety concerns can trigger the need to move. The first phase comes with the realization that what has been home is no longer suitable. Emotional ties to a place are hard to overcome. Finding a new home that is appealing and appropriate is no easy task, and neither is culling through a lifetime's accumulation of "stuff."

Here are some tips to help make the transition easier:

  • Plan ahead. Don't wait for a health crisis to start the process. The smoothest transitions occur when the person moving is in the driver's seat.
  • Get a full assessment of the current situation. Physical care needs and financial resources are where to start. Consider the costs of staying in place, including renovation and ongoing maintenance. Add the cost of rising utility bills and taxes, and don't forget transportation and food. Make a list and decide whether it's cheaper to stay or move to a community designed for seniors.
  • Take a multi-phase approach. Seniors often take longer than a year to actually make the move.
  • Fully explore new housing options. Senior living offers a broader range of options than ever before.

To learn more about Senior Housing, Medicare and Medicaid in North Carolina, please read our page on Long Term Care, Medicaid, and Public Benefit Planning.

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If you have a question, a comment, or simply want to have a conversation and explore how we can help, we’d love to hear from you.

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