What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
Elderly senior citizens experience a different set of life circumstances than younger generations. Certain areas of life become more challenging and assistance of various kinds is needed on a daily basis. There are also specific legal matters experienced only by the elderly, which need attention and assistance from attorneys trained in elder law.
Elder law is not a specific type of law per se, but rather a multi-focused area of related types of law as applied to the needs of the elderly. For example, elder law attorneys can be trained in family and/or civil law, but focus part of their practice on issues pertaining to senior citizens and their applicable family and friends. Some Issues can involve protecting and advocating for a senior’s rights. Other issues can involve end-of-life planning and daily logistics, which can include medical and financial management.
Private attorneys can charge $100 or $400 an hour or more plus court/filing fees. Other expenses can also be accrued. Affording a private elder law attorney can be a challenge for many senior citizens. Civil legal aid does exist but how do you or your loved ones qualify? Read ahead to discover more information about elder law attorneys an how to find the best ones in your area.
How Much Do Elder Law Attorneys Cost?
High hourly fees are not the only expenses associated with hiring an elder law attorney. Attorneys also charge flat fees for drafting or reading specific documents. Some attorneys also charge retainers. Retainers are flat sums of money paid to an attorney up front as a means of guaranteeing payment for accrued hourly charges and other expenses. Elder law cases requiring a retainer would most likely involve long-term care planning, drafting of wills and distribution of assets for wealthy seniors.
Flat fees are often charged for the drafting of more basic documents such as cease-and-desist letters, living wills, letters of intent to sue and more. Each individual attorney or law firm establishes how much each flat fee will cost. Prices can vary based on how many pages are being created and the amount of terms being negotiated. Attorneys can also take a percentage of monies awarded to you by the courts when your case is won.
Medical and Disability Assistance
Medicaid and Medicare are health care plans funded by the government. Both are helpful and essential for the retired and elderly. Both also have many nuances and details, which can be confusing to navigate properly. Elder law attorneys help ensure Medicaid and Medicare recipients receive the correct benefits. They also help fight against unwarranted and fraudulent out-of-pocket expenses.
Long-Term Care Planning
Long-term care can be an expensive endeavor to undertake. Finances for long-term care often need professional management. Elderly citizens can receive care in the comfort of their own homes or in long-term care or hospice facilities. Assisted living arrangements are also part of long-term care. Long-term care insurance exists to help cover or mitigate the costs of long-term care. Elder law attorneys can help arrange all financial and long-term care planning details. They can also help protect the elderly from being overcharged and charged for medicines or services they do not need.
Power of Attorney
Having power of attorney grants permission to a family member or friend to make decisions and take control of another person’s medical and financial situations. Power of attorney can be partial and limited to certain conditions. Power of attorney can also grant full control to the person receiving it.
A durable power of attorney designation allows for another person to act on your behalf for all medical, financial and other applicable circumstances. A non-durable power of attorney designation can apply in a limited manner to specifically agreed-upon documents or acts. Non-durable power of attorney designations do not include full, legal authority permissions outside of its specified purposes. A springing durable power of attorney designation means granted power of attorney permissions only take effect when specific medical or other medical situation arise. A springing durable power of attorney designation is part of end-of-life planning.
Many fraudulent individuals and organizations target senior citizens online and on the phone. The most common scams involve attempts to capture email addresses and steal identities via online phishing. Phishing scammers pretend to be official or government organizations and ask elderly citizens to enter and/or verify personal information via email or online portals. More examples of fraudulent activity targeting seniors include:
Funeral and cemetery planning scams.
Fake prescription drug plans.
Medicaid/Medicare identity scams.
Legal Aid for Elder Law Services
Civil legal aid is not a guaranteed service or right for U.S. citizens. Legal aid services are generally provided for individuals and households having an income level 125 percent or less then the government-determined poverty line. That being said, individuals already receiving additional public assistance such as SSDI, SSI, SNAP, Medicare and Medicaid most likely qualify for legal aid services. The elderly have special needs and legal aid services are designed to help those meet those needs. To find out if you or an elderly loved one qualifies for civil legal aid, go here.
Finding the Best Elder Law Attorney for You
Finding the best elder law attorney for you or an elderly loved one can be achieved by completing online searches through Google or Yahoo. Yelp is a public review website where former and current elder law clients leave reviews and comments about their experiences with elder law attorneys in your area.
There are also more specific websites such as lawyers.com, which are designed to find the exact elder law attorney you need for your situation. Additional search engine websites available to help find the best elder law attorney for you include: