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What is Elder Law and How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help Me?

Find an elder law attorney today

Elder Law, a relatively new development thanks to prolonged life expectancy, is a branch of the law that serves the needs of the elderly and the disabled as well as their family. As many of you who are caregivers may already know, Elder Law covers an impressive range of client issues, both legal and financial.

The right elder law attorney can guide all involved through the intricate ins and outs of any situation that could arise, protecting the rights and welfare of seniors and their family members. Just a small sampling of the issues an Elder Law attorney might need to address are guardianship, conservatorship, power of attorney, estate planning (wills and trusts), Medicaid planning, probate and estate administration, and advanced directives.

All About Elder Law

Because the laws regarding the care of the elderly vary from state to state, and are always subject to change, it is vital to find an Elder Law attorney who is skilled, knowledgeable, and up-to-date about policy and legal issues in their respective geographical area. Once the time is right to find such a lawyer, start your search by asking people – friends, family, your tax accountant, health care professionals, anyone you trust – for a recommendation. If, after that, you are still unsure about who to hire, check out The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Their members are held to a high ethical and professional standard, and are required to engage in continuing education.

RELATED: A COMPARISON LIST OF ONLINE LEGAL SERVICES FOR ESTATE PLANNING

Before approaching an elder law attorney, come up with a list of the specific concerns for the present and foreseeable future so that you know what qualifications and capabilities your attorney will need. After all, some Elder Law attorneys may only cover a few aspects of the possible issues, while others may be a one-stop resource for everything elder-legal. Additionally, you want a lawyer who is not only experienced and educated but who you feel comfortable talking with, who is relatable.

Fighting for the rights of another who is vulnerable can be trying enough without having the sense that your attorney is not committed and sympathetic. Though you may seem to find many answers through the lawyer’s website, it’s still smart to ask those same questions and anything else that comes to mind, in a face-to-face interview.

Ask The Right Elder Law Questions

Among the questions you could ask an Elder Law Attorney are the following:

  • How long have you been practicing this form of law?
  • Where did you get your education, and do you engage in continuing education? (Ask for details as to how the attorney keeps up-to-date.)
  • Are you licensed to practice Elder Law in this state? (Don’t take anything for granted.)
  • Here is a list of the required services: can you fulfill them? (Ask for a detailed description of what will be involved in fulfilling them.)
  • Do you have court-related (litigation) experience? (May never be necessary, but good to know.)
  • What organizations do you belong to? (There are a number that are Elder Law-specific.)
  • What type of fee schedule do you offer? (A flat fee, versus an hourly rate, might save you money.)
  • When money is an issue: Do you have a sliding scale or do pro bono work?

Since we’re speaking of money – and almost anything lawyer-related may put a strain on your budget -don’t hesitate to contact your local bar association or free legal aid society to discover if you qualify for low-cost or possibly pro bono advice and/or representation. Veterans can turn to their local chapter of the Veterans Administration for access to a free law clinic. There are also other organizations, outside the VA, that veterans can seek out, like the National Veterans Legal Services Program, among others.

For those who want to try to stay current on what’s happening within Elder Law, go online, to your favorite search engine, and type in “aging and disability” followed by the name of the state in which the senior lives. Every state government has a department devoted to these matters, though the official names will vary. Not only should you obtain the latest information, but you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, as well.

The upshot is, though caring for someone can be stressful, knowing what options are open to them, and to you, can make it all much easier. You’re not in this alone.

Related Articles on Elder Law

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Two Sides of the Coin: Elderly Driving Rights Vs. Safety Concerns for Families

The True Cost of Home Ownership

Book Review: The Con Game, A Failure of Trust

How to Detect Financial Exploitation of Seniors by Relatives

Senior Care: Pre-Planning is Key

Paying for Long Term Care- Are You Prepared?

Planning For Long Term Care Before a Crisis Hits

13 Comments

  1. I’ve been taking care of my mother for the last 10 yrs and I am her POA and she lives with me I take care of all her needs medication, bathing, cooking etc. However she has had hip surgery 2 yrs ago which now unfortunately has led to a ongoing infection in her leg from an procedure performed. My question is her pension she receives her concern is building hospital bills not covered by her insurance and social worker says she doesn’t qualify for Medicaid because her SS and pension takes her out of the bracket. Wondering if she needs a will made in order to give me access to using her pension funds to cover some expenses? And wants to leave me me as her beneficiary of her pensions because she refuses to go to a nursing home. Any answers would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
  2. Elderly parents in assisted living for 5 yrs now out of money and applying for medicaid. Problem is house sold in as condition as very little home improvement down since ownership of 1952. Sold less than so called fair market price. What options do I have
  3. My parents are both living in their condo and have home health aid 24/7. However, the state will only pay for 12 hours during the day. The remaining 12 hour shift, at night, is being charged to my parents Visa cards. The available credit will soon run out on the cards and there are no funds to pay for this service.. My father is 96 and in a wheel chair due to end stages of congestive heart failure. He cannot do ANYTHING on his own. He cannot, bath, eat, get dressed ,go to the bathroom or shower. He is down to 118 pounds.My mother is 89 and has Vascular Dimentia. She is down to 89 pounds.She, obviously, cannot oversee Dad’s care taking. We have been told by the Southwestern CT Agency on Aging rep, that the state will not pay for more coverage. This is unbelievable. What would have to be the circumstances in order for the state to pick up the tab???
  4. I have for the pass 5 months, have care for my sister affairs, no applying for guardianship hoping she would get better she have a stroke broke her hip now a relative has come into her life I have paid and I have receipts for everything I’ve done out of her social security I’ll paying her bills the nursing home and so forth Denise has changed her social security to come to her instead of to the bank I’ve been unable to pay the nursing home for the past 2 months she is not the guardian I have applied for guardianship which I go to court on the 19th of July what can I do to make make her refund the money back that the nursing home can be paid and my sister don’t lose her Medicaid
  5. Hi, I’m just wondering if there’s something I can do about my situación, I’m under under doctors care since I had my organ transplant, we had to sell our home to pay for expenses to get my organ out of state, my daughter and her husband were nice enough to let us live with her since my husband had to retired to be my caregiver! I just can’t recouperate and having lots issues with my health, long story shorten… my daughter thinks because she helps me she can abuse me by calling me horrible names so over a week ago we got into because I told her she needed to respect me, we argue and she kicked me out of her home and I don’t have a place to live and don’t have enough money to rent a place, I’m on anti rejection meds among others and it’s very hard for me to survive like this! Is there something I can do legally? I love my daughter and don’t want to hurt her but she’s hurting me by throwing me on the street and living in different hotels here and there. I don’t know what else to do! Thanks in advance.
  6. I need advice on what can be done or who i contact when an elderly person is being used and gets married to a young woman whos using him for entrance into the United States.
  7. I AM A VICTUM OF NJ MEDICAID. I HAVE BEEN DROPPED AND SCHEDULED FOR A HEARING MAY 6. TOO COMPLICATED FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND AND NEED LEGAL GUIDANCE. BURLINGTON COUNTY NJ
  8. Thanks for the tip to see how long an attorney has been practicing when it comes to Elder Law. My parents are looking to hire a lawyer. I will help them find an attorney that has plenty of experience.
  9. It’s interesting that these days elders have their own laws that can protect their rights together with the elders as you mentioned. That is something that would be beneficial to learn more of as it would help me make sure that my father will be protected by the law. I’ll probably get an elder law attorney for my dad to discuss the topic more. Thanks!
  10. My grandmother’s health has been declining recently. She wants to make sure she has all of her legal planning done before she passes away. I didn’t realize elder care lawyers specialize in dealing with complex legal issues that arise with the passing of an estate. I’ll be sure to let my grandma know about this information.

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