What is Elder Law? How to Find an Elder Lawyer

 Elder Law

What is Elder Law?

Elder law refers to a diverse collection of laws that affects the interests and needs of elders. It is not a single body of law. Rather it is joined by the common interest of elders and managing issues which affect them. This includes everything from wills to social security retirement benefits to housing discrimination.

Governing Law

Elder law is a combination of state and federal law. Since it covers such a diverse components of the law, these laws are codified and case law. They are generally a mixture. No state truly has a separate elder law section, although many now have indexes that list the corresponding sections of law that may be implicated.

Reasons for Hiring an Attorney

You will need to hire an elder law attorney for a number of reasons. Collection of social security retirement benefits, drafting of wills, defense against incapacitation decrees, and other similar issues are quite common. Guardianship, real estate, neglect, and others are also popular reasons for hiring an elder law lawyer. Generally, any time that you have a matter that could imply the loss or obtainment of legal rights and it involves an elderly person, you will want to consider hiring an elder law lawyer. If you are not in need of such assistance but have a friend or family member who is, then you should recommend that they obtain one. However, unless you have been established as guardian or granted power of attorney, you cannot compel them to take on an attorney. An elder law firm can also assist in preventative measures, meaning that you can meet with one to discuss potential upcoming issues. Estate planning and advanced directives are common examples of preventative measures.

Things to Look for in an Elder Law Lawyer

Elder law is a fairly new specialization, and not all states fully recognize it as a specialization in need of additional certification. Even if your state offers additional certification processes, you should look for an attorney or law firm that has experience in the fields that you need. Handling social security benefits is distinct from planning a real estate legacy. In areas of more complicated law such as trust establishment or conservatorships, it is important to find an attorney who specializes in that relevant law to ensure that the plan meets your needs. In some states, you may even find one who has been certified.

Often times, you will have multiple areas of law that you will need assistance with. If you choose to place an attorney on retainer for your legal matters, it may be wise to find one who specializes in the most complex part of the needed law. Most lawyers can handle the simpler and more basic requirements of the law. Another alternative is to find an attorney who can provide the majority of the services you need and only seek out specialist help as you actually need it. This latter option is one of the less expensive choices. Often times, a lawyer specializing in laws relating to elders will be capable of practicing in estate planning, probate, Medicaid planning, advanced directives, guardianship, neglect, and personal injury, but they will still generally have a further specialization.

In looking for a longer term attorney, it’s good to find one who is familiar with the “ elder law network. ” This is the network of relationships that most elderly individuals must navigate, the intersection of matters like retirement benefits, social security, Medicaid, and other similar areas. This also means having an understanding of various aids and resources available to elders within the community.

Elder Law Blogs

  • Considerations for Retirement Benefits

    One of the initial reasons that social security was developed was to provide retirement benefits. It is actually one of the larger issues in elder law, and it is something that an attorney in a law firm or solo practice will know all about if they sp...