What is elder law?

Elder law is an area of law that focuses on the legal needs of the elderly. These needs generally include retirement planning, life insurance, medical costs, and estate planning. Attorneys who specialize in elder law usually have expertise in matters related to:

  • Medicare, Social Security, veterans disability, and other government benefit programs;
  • Powers of attorney, which provide a person with the ability to make medical or financial decisions on another person's behalf;
  • Health and personal care planning, including medical care directives, long-term care plans, and end of life decisions;
  • Retirement planning;
  • Insurance;
  • Wills and trusts;
  • Financial planning; and,
  • Quality of life and independence.

Elder law attorneys also handle issues concerning elder abuse. This includes physical abuse and financial abuse. Financial abuse occurs when someone takes advantage of an elderly person’s physical or mental incapacitation to steal money from him or her.

When to Hire an Elder Law Attorney

It is best to seek an elder law attorney’s services before illness or incapacity becomes an issue so they can help you draft legal documents detailing exactly how certain situations should be handled if you are not able to make decisions for yourself. That means you’ll be in control of the care and treatment you receive regardless of your ability to assert what you want at a later point. If you are the victim of elder abuse, you should contact an elder law attorney immediately.

Hiring an Elder Law Attorney

Before hiring an elder law attorney, consider how long the attorney has been practicing elder law. You should also consider whether their practice emphasizes the particular areas of elder law that are important to your circumstances. Prepare for your first meeting with the elder law attorney by making a list of any questions you may have; and bring any documents related to the matters that concern you. This will allow the attorney to provide focused information about your elder law issues, and help you determine whether he or she is the right elder law attorney for you.