Elder Law

Virginia Elder Law Attorneys

In the United States, the average lifespan has greatly increased during the past few decades. With this increase in longevity come various issues which have led to the development of a new area of law specifically focusing on the elderly population. Elder law is a combination of estate planning, long-term care planning, asset protection, and veterans benefits planning. J.S Burton has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all aspects of elder law and regularly represents clients in this area.

Now that people are living longer, often well into their 80s and 90s, it has become more likely that an individual will need long-term medical care in the future. Unfortunately, long-term care is extraordinarily expensive, and an individual could easily deplete their life savings in a matter of months when paying for such services out-of- pocket. If a person is unable to pay for this care, their assets will be liquidated, or the money may be taken out of their estate upon their passing.

Medicaid Planning in Virginia

Luckily, there is a way to plan around this long-term care problem. Medicaid is a government-funded healthcare plan available to those who qualify financially. Medicaid will cover an enrollee’s long-term care expenses. Because it is a means-tested program, however, many must spend down or move assets around in order to qualify. J.S. Burton is skilled at working with clients in order to make them eligible for Medicaid.  We can do this either as a precautionary measure, taking into account the five-year look-back period during which Medicaid will scrutinize financial records for improper transactions that may result in a penalty, or in a crisis situation where a person needs long-term care as soon as possible. J.S. Burton regularly works with clients on Medicaid-related matters, allowing them to maintain control of their assets and to preserve them for the benefit of loved ones while still qualifying for Medicaid.

Incapacity, Guardianships, & Conservatorships in Virginia

It is also important to realize that living longer increases the chance that a person might become incapacitated at some point in their life, becoming unable to handle their personal, financial, or medical affairs. With a comprehensive estate plan that includes a durable power of attorney and advance medical directive, an agent will be able to take over the person’s care automatically, should the need arise. 

Many people do not have an estate plan in place, necessitating guardianship or conservatorship proceedings. In Virginia, a guardian handles a person’s personal and medical affairs, while a conservator handles a person’s finances.  Either one can have complete or limited control over the matters in question. In order to appoint a guardian or conservator, a proceeding must be filed in the Virginia Circuit Court. Our Virginia elder law attorneys regularly handle these cases on behalf of incapacitated individuals.


If you are interested in how elder law can help you protect assets and assist in obtaining governmental benefits, contact the attorneys of J.S. Burton at (888) 885-9001 for a consultation.


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    • How long will it take to become eligible for Medicaid?
      There’s no simple answer as to how long it might take an individual to qualify for Medicaid. There are many variables in every situation that must be taken into consideration and ultimately affect the eligibility timeline, including the state in which you live, whether your application is complete, your assets, income and expenses, any asset transfers you’ve made to individuals or trusts, and more. Before applying for Medicaid, you should consult an elder law attorney in your area. The attorney can help you understand both eligibility and the application process, and should be able to give you an estimate of the time frame you can expect.
    • Is Medicaid Planning legal?
      Medicaid planning is legal. Elder law attorneys work to protect clients’ assets within the bounds of the law. Congress allows citizens to qualify for Medicaid after meeting certain requirements, and those requirements could be changed if Congress felt they were being abused. Medicaid planning is akin to tax planning - both are legal.
    • Doesn’t Medicare provide coverage for long term care?
      Medicare does not provide coverage for long-term care, such as nursing home care. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing care per illness. A patient must be hospitalized for the illness, and the patient must receive a high level of care in a nursing home that couldn’t be provided at home or on an outpatient basis. After 20 days of nursing home care, there is a large copayment required of the patient for the remainder of the stay.

      Medicare will also pay for home health benefits if you are housebound and if a doctor has ordered home health services for you, at least some of which are skilled. Medicare will pay for up to 35 hours of services per week, and patients only have to pay for 20 percent of the cost of medical supplies and equipment.
    • What is Medicaid Planning and what does it involve?
      Medicaid is a federal program that will pay for nursing home care. Medicaid is not to be confused with Medicare, which in most cases will not pay for extended nursing home care. Medicare is a program which people pay into during their working years, while Medicaid is a needs-based program intended to help impoverished Americans with medical expenses.