Every month Grace Care features a local business that we highly recommend in the community. Each article will include helpful information to our readers.
This month Grace Care features Phil Lindsley and the San Diego Elder Law Center. We have had the pleasure of working closely with Mr. Lindsley for many years and are proud to do this feature. He is one of only two Certified Elder Law Attorneys in San Diego, so we thank him for sharing his expertise with us. We hope the information provided in our interview is helpful in learning more about the different aspects of elder law.
Can you explain to us what an elder law attorney does?
The field of elder law deals with the legal challenges faced by elders, as well as special needs, and disabled individuals. Core to this practice is securing quality of life, advocating for best results in the health care system, maximizing financing and public benefit resources, asset preservation, and helping make sure the appropriate planning documents and decision makers are in place. This usually involves also addressing the issues of family and caregivers as well. Medi-Cal and VA benefit planning, tax issues, estate planning, conservatorships and a variety of long-term care issues are part of these services.
Frankly, an elder law attorney is any attorney that wishes to identify themselves as such. The knowledge level amongst those that do varies. I think the consumer should look for those that have been certified as elder law attorneys by the state bar, or who clearly devote a majority of their time to this area and have for a while. Don’t hesitate to ask.
What services do you offer at the San Diego Elder Law Center?
We are a full service Elder, Special Needs, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Firm. Our core practice though, and what we most enjoy doing, is Medi-Cal Planning, Life Care Planning and Special Needs Planning. In Medi-Cal Planning, we are helping people in crisis qualify for the benefits they need so they don’t impoverish themselves, their spouses or estates with skilled nursing expenses. The belief that you must spend most of your assets before you qualify for long-term Medi-Cal care is a myth. There are significant exemptions and asset protection techniques that can often preserve the bulk, if not all, of the family estate.
Life Care Planning is similar, but built on advanced planning where we have some time, and skilled nursing is not yet needed. For our Life Care clients, we advocate and secure the resources to keep them in the least restrictive environment as long as possible, whether it is at home with care or in an assisted living. Our Special Needs Clients are typically parents or family members of the developmentally disabled, or with other disabilities, which are trying to plan for the future care of their family member. Throughout all these areas, we strive to be strong advocates for the best care and treatment possible for our clients with a chronic disability. Like Grace Care Management, we don’t want them, their families or their caregivers to feel overwhelmed anymore.
What are your specialties?
I’ve been practicing in this area for 33 years. I’m a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), one of two in San Diego County. This specialization is accredited by the ABA and State Bar of California. I am also a State Bar Certified Legal Specialist (CLS) in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate, and an Accredited VA Attorney.
How do you help people who don’t need Medi-Cal planning?
Even those who don’t need or qualify for Medi-Cal now may want to take a look at their situation and whether or not there is any advanced planning they could do that would benefit them down the road. Often, this takes the form of estate plan modifications to assure proper long-term planning options are preserved. Existing plans, if there are any, are usually lacking in the language and options we like to see. Most plans don’t provide for public benefits qualification authority, for example, or are unnecessarily restrictive in planning options.
What place does care management have in your practice?
Huge. I would make very different recommendations, for example, to a family that I knew had the support system in place to safely stay in their home, than I would where a transfer to a Skilled Nursing Facility was likely in the immediate future. I’m an attorney. It’s not my expertise, and would be detrimental to my clients and their caregivers for me to be guessing about such things.
Effective practice of Elder and Disability law almost by definition means a close-interdisciplinary working relationship with people, and care management companies, like Grace Care Management. Health care, financial services, and law firms should be talking to each other if we want best results for our clients. Unfortunately, that often doesn’t happen. At the San Diego Elder Law Center we make sure it does.
To find out more information about Phil Lindsley and the San Diego Elder Law Center, please visit their website at www.sandiegoelderlaw.com or call (619) 235-4357.