What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
The simple answer is that Elder Law Attorneys handle legal issues that directly affect the elderly or their loved ones. They are the main advocates for the elderly in a court of law. Much of their practice relates to issues around health care, long term care planning, retirement issues or disputes, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, or even guardianship. And these aren’t the only areas that Elder Attorneys handle.
Many attorneys choose a specific area of the law to specialize in. Elder Law Attorneys are no exception, as the needs of the elderly are often different than those of younger adults. Elder Law attorneys are also often uniquely equipped to handle the physical and emotional needs of older or disabled adults, and can navigate challenging situations with care and competence. Elder Law Attorneys look out for a vulnerable portion of society and make sure they get the representation they need.
The most common forms of legal assistance that an Elder Law Attorney offers include:
- Discussing and helping draft wills and estate planning documents.
- Health Care Planning, such as long term care options, or Medicare and Medicaid planning.
- Financial Representation, usually focused around financial planning for retirement or medical expenses, tax planning and assistance, and income management.
Elder's Law Attorney Duties
Another key aspect of an Elder Law Attorney’s duties is helping create and discuss a durable power of attorney. Durable Power of Attorney refers to any document that is drafted in respect to one’s finances or medical treatments. Should someone become incapable of handling their own financial or medical affairs, whether its due to illness, injury, or age, documents and instructions crafted with Durable Power of Attorney outline how one wishes their medical or financial well being to be handled. Usually Power of Attorney is granted to a trusted family member, such as a child, sibling, or spouse. Ordinary, or “non-durable” power of Attorney only applies as long as the person who makes them is mentally fit. Only Durable Power of Attorney stays in place if one loses mental function and capacity.
Establishment of Guardianship
Another key service that Elder Law Attorneys can offer is the establishment of guardianship, such as helping one appoint a legal guardian for themselves or their loved ones if such an eventuality becomes necessary. Elder Law Attorneys can also help locate a suitable long term care facility or nursing home. Even more important, Elder Law Attorneys will inform and explain nursing home resident rights. They will also help file any claims against nursing homes or other similar elder care facilities.