Friday, January 3, 2014

Elder Law Opportunity

Approximately one million Americans are now at risk of losing their homes, farms, and small businesses to Medicaid's estate recovery program ("MERP"), but as of today there have been less than 20 news stories about the problem--and most of those have been published in the "local news" section. That is a problem for older, poorer Americans but a terrific opportunity for elder law attorneys.

Attention, attorneys: would you like more business? Here's your recipe for free advertising:
  • Find a person who is:
    • over 55 
    • with an income below 138% of the federal poverty line
    • who owns a home, farm, small business, substantial savings, or other assets.
  • Research MERP in your state (if you don't already know the law).
  • Find the webpage where your state explains MERP.
  • Find the newspaper(s) that serve your area and look for their "submit a story" button. (If they don't have a "submit a story" button, search for "health" and find the reporter who covers health issues.) Explain the problem, the solution, and offer to put them in touch with your client. Make sure they include the name of your firm in the story!
To make this work, you have to be able to explain the solution. As I have explained in previous posts, any person with enough assets to worry about can sell just enough of their property each year to generate the income they need to qualify for subsidies. For some, one big yard sale might boost their income over the Medicaid line. Other clients may need more specialized help--which is why this is such an opportunity for specialists in elder law.

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