Estate planning and elder law is an intensely personal process. It deals with matters of life, death, dignity, family, property, legal and emotional matters. This area is very complicated and confusing to many. At Acosta Law Firm, PLLC, located in Plymouth, Esther Acosta helps families prepare for the future. Through her knowledge of the law and personal experiences, she can help elders protect themselves and their legacy.
"There is an emotional aspect as to why I do what I do," Acosta says. "I've been through it. I know what it's like to lose a loved one. I want to make sure that families are prepared for what their aging generations will need in terms of care, what assets are available to them and also navigate the process should they pass away."
Seven years ago, Acosta's husband passed away. She says they were "too busy raising kids. Estate planning was not on our minds." Now, she stands in front of families to empower and educate them because she has been in their position. Protecting the people you love, and the assets your own, through thoughtful planning not only gives you peace of mind, but also creates your own legacy. "As an attorney, I have the opportunity and the obligation to leave nothing to chance," she adds.
Acosta says she has seen many people work all of their lives to earn money to leave behind for their children, yet the money is spent on nursing homes, medical bills and other things they didn't plan for. Additionally, if there is no pre-planning or properly deeded property, the estate can be held up for a time in the probate courts.
"People print documents they find online. They are not a plan for the future or an estate plan. They are just documents. Our law firm is not called estate documents. It is called estate planning for a reason. You breathe your voice and plan into the documents. At Acosta Law Firm, we listen carefully to our clients, talk through all of the nuances and help customize a plan fit for the family. It is not one size fits all," Acosta says. "While people think seeing an attorney for their planning and documents can be expensive, it's often more expensive not to have the plans in place."
In times of crisis or death, families have to make difficult decisions. With pre-planning, the elders are leaving their loved ones with specifically outlined wishes and properly planned documents to make sure the goal is clear.
"We talk about wills, trusts, Medicaid planning, probate administration and we empower the elder through this process to meet their goals," Acosta says. For those facing medical challenges or those that come with aging, Acosta also tries to help them find the best options for care. "We'd like to keep the elders at home and have services come to them. We look at the plans and options available for affording that as well."
While Acosta prefers to help families plan in advance, some of her clients come to her in crisis situations for advice, help and support in an area they often have never experienced.
"Available assets can be protected 100 percent if you pre-plan. If you don't and go through crisis mode, we have to step in and try to save maybe 60 to 70 percent of their assets," Acosta says.
When elders move into private pay situations and nursing homes, this can be frightening time for both loved ones and the elder. It is important to be familiar with the rights and responsibilities the facilities have towards our senior citizens. It is shown that the facilities are less likely to violate the rights of a senior citizen in their care if the facility knows that the family, or the loved ones are routinely involved and an elder law attorney is advocating on their behalf, Acosta says.
"I tell clients, if you have a heart attack, you go see a cardiologist because they know exactly what to do with your heart. That's what they work on every day. When you need help planning for the future, you want to go to a specialist who knows elder law and estate planning. I see it and deal with elder law every day, we are here to advocate for our clients by exploring all options that fit best for their needs," Acosta says.
She also has experience working with people from all types of situations, including married couples, single people, blended families, business succession and the LGBTQ community.
"At some point in your life, two things will happen. Someone will have to step in to care for you and someone will have to bury you. You can leave baggage to your story or you can shape your life and your legacy," Acosta says.
Acosta Law Firm gives free consultations to everyone that attends Acosta's educational seminars. For more information on the seminars and services offered, visit the Acosta Law Firm, PLLC website or call 734-927-5244.