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What is Elder Law and Why Would I Need to Hire an Elder Law Attorney?

By Jessica Deng

If you care for a parent, spouse, or an aging loved one, you may be aware of the challenges people face as they age – health care, housing, financial well-being, and long-term care to mind. These issues can feel overwhelming, an elder care attorney is a specially trained professional to help navigate the complex problems of aging.Many people question, what is “Elder Law” is, how can an elder attorney help, and why you would need to consider hiring one as you or a loved one is getting older. This month is Elder Law Month, and, in this article, we will share with you the importance of having an elder law attorney and legal considerations as you age.

An elder law attorney can help family caregivers explore options for their loved one’s current situation and explain how to plan for what could happen down the lines, especially if a loved one has a debilitating illness. Elder law encompasses many fields and specializes in numerous areas, including:

  • Administration and management of estates and trusts
  • Long-term planning, documentation, and advance directives including Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, Living Will, etc.
  • Medicare and Social Security appeals and claims
  • Trusts, wills, and other financial documents
  • Estate planning and Probate
  • Assisting with placing individuals in long-term care facilities and advocating for patients living in these facilities

It is recommended that people above the age of 65 enlist the services of an elder law attorney even if they are healthy. This will ensure that they can be involved in planning for the future and provide peace of mind to family members and caregivers.  As a person age, their legal needs may change with their healthcare needs. Some examples of situations where an elder law attorney would be helpful are:

  • You or your loved one is over 55 and interested in estate planning.
  • Your loved one is entering a nursing home for long-term care and wants to preserve/transfer assets.
  • Your spouse or parent is no longer able to live with you independently and needs a higher level of care.
  • An elder law attorney can work with you and your loved one to prepare a durable power of attorney. This allows an appointed person to make medical or financial decisions on behalf of your loved one even if they become incapacitated.
  • Elder law attorneys can help family members identify risky situations that could lead to financial exploitation.

When you hire an attorney, it means not having to navigate the often confusing and emotional territory. It can ease the financial and practical burdens that may fall upon you and your loved ones should you become ill or disabled. A knowledgeable elder law attorney is sensitive to your needs and can be the most valuable asset.

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