On Thursday, January 30 Heritage at Milford assisted living facility hosted Off The Clock, a complimentary Elder law question and answer session with attorney Amber Woodland of Procino Wells, LLC. The discussion of the evening was centered around sheltering assets from long term care costs, applying for Medicaid benefits, creating wills and a powers of attorney and administering loved ones’ estates.
Amber Woodland, Esquire is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the State of Delaware. A graduate of Seaford High School, she earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree, Cum Laude, at Flagler College in Florida and received her Juris Doctor from Regent University School of Law in Virginia. An associate attorney at Procino Wells, LLC, Amber’s practice is now focused in estate planning and administration, real estate and elder law, with a primary emphasis in guardianship and planning to avoid the costs of long term care.
Although Thursday’s session did not provide specific legal advice for any one individual or family, Woodland answered several questions asked by those in attendance. Woodland explained that the need for Elder law services will drastically increase alongside the growing population of older residents in lower Delaware. According to a population growth study by the University of Delaware, Delaware is expected to be one of the “grayest” states in the nation by the year 2030 and Sussex County’s senior population is projected to double.
A main focal point of the discussion was surrounded around asset protection planning for long term care, educating families on possible ways that assets can be protected with proper preparation. Pre-planning for long term care can allow for 100 percent of assets to be protected with proper asset protection planning, but the percentage of possible protected assets decreases in the intermediate and crisis planning phases. Woodland stated that seniors are not the only individuals that should be prepared with estate planning.
“Anyone over the age of eighteen, regardless of health or wealth, should be prepared with estate planning including at least a will, a power of attorney and an advance health care directive,” commented Woodland. She explained that a thorough power of attorney can be the most important estate planning tool. “When a person does not have a power of attorney and a decision needs to be made for them, and, because of incapacity, they cannot sign a power of attorney, the Court will have to get involved to establish what is called a guardianship.”
Woodland suggested that when planning for long term care, it is recommended that an elder law attorney be a part of the planning process. She explained that an elder law attorney is different from other resources because they are “an advocate, someone retained to assess the goals and needs of the elderly client and to recommend options which will best achieve those aims.” This is specifically important in areas where individuals may lack the access to elder law resources.
“Especially in the mid to west side of Sussex County there is a lack of resources and education on services available to the elderly,” commented Amber Woodlland, Esq. “We want to bring these issues to the public directly and raise awareness in our community.”