Elder Law is defined by the client to be served. In other words, the attorney who practices Elder Law may handle a range of issues but has a specific type of client – the elderly.
What legal issues does the Elder Law attorney handle?
The Elder Law attorney handles estate planning issues and counsels clients about planning for incapacity with alternative decision-making documents. The attorney would also assist the client in planning for possible long-term care needs, including nursing home care. Locating the appropriate type of care, coordinating private and public resources to finance the cost of care, and working to ensure the client’s right to quality care are all part of the Elder Law practice.
Specifically, an Elder Law attorney may deal with any of the following:
- Financing long-term care with Medicaid and VA Aid and Attendance Pension
- Preservation of assets, maybe using an irrevocable trust
- Disability planning, including use of durable powers of attorney, living trusts, living wills, for financial management and health care decisions, and other means of delegating management and decision-making to another in case of incompetency or incapacity.
- Conservatorships and guardianships
- Estate planning, including planning for the management of one’s estate during life and its disposition on death through the use of trusts, wills and other planning documents
Where do you find an Elder Law attorney?
This is where we get to the point of this article. You can find Elder Law attorneys on the internet but what areas of Elder Law does each attorney practice? For example, our law firm specializes in estate planning and Elder Law. In the Elder Law area, we help people finance long term care by qualifying for Medicaid and the VA Aid and Attendance Pension benefit, and we do the applications for those benefits. We do irrevocable trusts for asset preservation, both Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts (MAPT) and Veterans Asset Protection Trusts (VAPT). We do Elder Law wills, which limit how much the spouse in a nursing home will inherit. We do conservatorships and guardianships. And we do estate planning for the elderly which addresses different issues than estate planning for the nonelderly.
We belong to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Elderlawanswers and Elder Counsel. These organizations focus on the legal needs of the elderly.
So when an attorney says he/she practices Elder Law, find out which of these matters he/she handles. You will want to hire the attorney who regularly handles matters in the area of concern in your particular case and who will know enough about the other fields to question whether the action being taken might be affected by laws in any of the other areas of law on the list. For example, if you are going to prepare a new will and your spouse is ill, the estate planner needs to know enough about Medicaid to know whether it is an issue with regard to your spouse’s medical care planning.