Instead of being defined by a technical legal category, elder law attorneys are defined by the type of client they serve. As the name implies, elder law attorneys are advocates for the elderly and their loved ones, but they also serve disabled people of any age who need long term care.
What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
An elder law attorney can help with any number of issues including:
- Preserving or transferring assets through estate planning
- Avoiding spousal impoverishment when the other spouse needs to enter a nursing home
- Medicaid and Medicare claims and appeals
- Disability planning, including the use of durable powers of attorney, advance directives, and durable financial powers of attorney.
- Conservatorships and guardianships
- Administration and management of trusts and estates
- Long-term care placements in nursing home and life care communities
- Retirement benefits, survivor benefits, pensions and VA benefits
Most elder law attorneys do not specialize in every possible area of elder care so it’s important to ask an elder law attorney in advance if she handles your specific need.
Why Hire an Elder Law Attorney?
Because elder law attorneys focus on the legal needs of seniors they can bring many areas of legal knowledge to bear on each case and tailor documents to the specific needs of each individual, while also seamlessly working with the different areas of need an elderly person may have.
It is critical to have a holistic approach to legal advice for elders so that all areas, such as, housing, financial well-being, asset protection, transfer of assets, health and long-term care, quality of life, etc., are all taken into consideration to meet the special goals and needs of an aging person. For example, if a spouse needs to rewrite her will while her husband is ill, the attorney managing the estate plan needs to know enough about Medicaid to know whether there are issues regarding spousal inheritance.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize how different areas of law work together – social security, Medicaid, tax, inheritance and estate planning – which can have a significant effect on the assets and long-term care of the elderly.