Elder Lawyers a Valuable Resource

Elder Lawyers a Valuable Resource
Elder law covers all aspects of planning, counseling, education, and advocating for clients. Elder law attorneys are a resource to their clients because they understand that their clients’ needs may extend beyond basic legal services and stay informed about, and connected to, the local networks of professionals who serve the aging population.

Attorneys who work in the field of elder law usually bring more to their practice than an expertise in the appropriate area of law. They also have knowledge of older adult issues and their unique needs as well as the myths related to competence and aging. They are aware of the physical and mental difficulties that often accompany the aging process. Because of their broad knowledge base they are able to more thoroughly address the legal needs of their clients.

Elder law attorneys deal with legal issues involving, but not limited to:
• Health and personal care planning, which includes: powers of attorney and living wills; lifetime planning; family issues;

• Fiduciary (financial) representation; financial planning; housing opportunities and financing; income, estate, and gift tax matters;

• Planning for a well spouse when the other spouse requires long term care; Asset protection; public benefits such as Medicaid and insurance; Veterans’ benefits; Capacity; guardianship and guardianship avoidance;

• Resident rights in long term care facilities; nursing home claims;

• Employment and retirement matters; age or disability discrimination and grandparents’ rights;

• Will and trust planning; planning for minor or adult special needs children; probate.

Elder law encompasses all aspects of planning for aging, illness, and incapacity. The specialization requires a practitioner to be particularly sensitive to the legal issues impacting older clients. Some attorneys are certified as elder law specialists.

When considering hiring an elder law attorney, here are some questions to research: How long has the attorney been practicing? What percentage of the attorney’s practice is devoted to elder law? What is the attorney’s experience regarding the specific matter with which you are concerned? How much elder law training has the attorney had, and from what organizations? In the U.S., is the attorney a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys?

When meeting with an elder law attorney, we should bring with us any documents we think will be helpful, just in case they are needed.

Lawyers who specialize in elder care also work to stop elder abuse in all of its forms and in all locales, e.g., at home as well as in assisted living, nursing home and other facilities. If the level of care provided by a caregiver does not adhere to the law, family members may have grounds to take legal action to put an end to any physical, emotional, sexual, or financial elder abuse. When we suspect that our loved one is being neglected or ill-treated, that is the time to discuss the problem with an elder law attorney.

The following website has useful information along with a directory that lists lawyers in our area trained in elderlaw: Check out the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA): www.naela.org. For information and a good overview about legal documents, see Legal Considerations When Facing Incapacity at the Area Agency on Aging’s website https://www.agingcarefl.org/legal-considerations-when-facing-incapacity/

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Content copyright © 2023 by Patricia Villani, MPA, PhD. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Patricia Villani, MPA, PhD. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Patricia Villani, MPA, PhD for details.