Most people are relatively familiar with what personal injury, corporate, real estate, and family law attorneys do, but few understand the services of an elder law attorney. Typically, an elder law attorney deals with legal matters that impact the lives of an elderly or disabled individual. Some of the most common cases include guardianship, Social Security, assisted living, long-term care planning, Medicare and/or Medicaid, retirement, and other pertinent issues.
In other words, this type of attorney works as an advocate for aging and disabled people, as well as family members. Because the primary focus is on issues that affect elderly and disabled people, an elder law attorney works within a very specialized area of the law.
As part of the services rendered, an elder law attorney handles critical matters regarding estate planning, financial planning, and even short- and long-term care. Literally, anything that affects the care of an aging or disabled person is something that this attorney handles on behalf of the client. Depending on the situation, the client may be the elderly or disabled person, but the client can also be a member of the family or a close friend who has the power of attorney for making key decisions.
When growing old or becoming disabled, there is a tremendous amount of emotional and physical distress. As a result, many people have difficulty making sound decisions. By hiring a reputable elder law attorney, not only are legalities dealt with, but there is also a definite sense of empathy provided. After all, the attorney’s goal is to make the client feel comfortable while striving for a positive outcome.
For anyone who needs to plan an estate or create a living will, which may include putting a plan in place for an adult with special needs or a minor, it is imperative to hire a qualified elder law attorney. This attorney can also create and execute a durable power of attorney; assist with financial, income, estate, and gift tax planning; and handle issues pertaining to patients’ rights, probate proceedings, housing options, and much more.
Even guardianship is an area of expertise for an elder law attorney. Because of the responsibilities involved, the attorney will assist in finding the right person to serve in this role, someone who will always make the elderly or disabled person’s interests a priority.
The drafting of a living will or another type of advance directives is one of the most important areas of specialty that an elder law attorney handles. Unfortunately, many people face a crisis, and without having these important documents in place, family members must make difficult decisions without knowing if they are following the wishes of their loved one. Obviously, this creates a great deal of undue stress.
The bottom line is that any aging or disabled person should have at a minimum a consultation with an elder law attorney. In doing so, the attorney can provide answers and give advice as to the individual’s next steps for ensuring that everything is legally in place according to his or her personal wishes.