When to Consult an Elder Law Attorney

Older adults often face complex legal concerns that are substantially different from anything they may have faced previously in life. Seemingly harmless actions taken may have unexpected legal consequences. An expert in Elder Law can help seniors or people making decisions for them navigate these complicated issues.

What is Elder Law

Elder Law is a complex legal area that covers many categories. Often included under this umbrella are things like the preservation or transfer of assets seeking to avoid spousal impoverishment when a spouse enters a nursing home, conservatorships and guardianships, Medicaid related issues, Medicare claims and appeals, Social Security and disability claims and appeals, supplemental and long-term health insurance issues, estate planning, including planning for the management of one's estate during life and its bequeathment upon death through the use of trusts, wills, and other planning documents, disability planning, including use of durable powers of attorney, living trusts, "living wills,” and other means of delegating the management and decision-making power to another individual or group in case of incompetency or incapacity, probate, administration and management of trusts and estates, long-term care placements in nursing home and life care communities, nursing home issues including those pertaining to patients' rights and questionable nursing home quality, elder abuse and fraud recovery cases, housing issues, including discrimination and home equity conversions, age discrimination in employment, retirement, including public and private retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and pension benefits, health law, and mental health law. Clearly, it is a broad category. Individual professionals may also have an expertise in any of these fields along with many others not listed. It is important to make sure any Elder Care attorney hired has expertise in the specific area surrounding the issue of the client's concern.

When to Consult an Attorney

A person may consult an Elder Law attorney when faced with any of the issues above, or when an older loved one is faced with them. It is generally a best practice to consult a professional as soon as it becomes obvious that the issue is out of that person’s realm of expertise or control. An Elder Law attorney has years of training and expertise in the field to make the process go as smoothly as possible and help to avoid potential pitfalls. They are also often tied into a formal or informal system of social workers, psychologists, and other elder care professionals who may be of assistance to clients. That is an invaluable built-in support system that is difficult to obtain otherwise.

How to Find an Elder Law Attorney

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a great tool in finding a local Elder Law attorney. They have members all over the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Potential clients can use the database on their website in order to search for reputable members within a specified area. As an added bonus, members of this organization are vetted by organizational committees and found to have superior skill and moral standing.