SO WHAT IS ELDER LAW?
As you can see on the banner and even in the URL address for this website, we are all about elder law. But perhaps after reading some of this you might be asking, what is elder law anyway?
It sounds like it should be pretty specialized, right?
Well it is, to a point. The specialty is the clientele – those who are older and thus will likely be involved in matters of estate planning, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and the like.
No, it is not the legal doctrine of TV lawyer/radio personality Larry Elder.
There are all kinds of attorneys who dabble in various categories of elder law, including those that actually have clientele of varying ages. But there are very few elder law “specialists,” those who at least know a lot about every area of elder law. Elder law can cover the gamut, from estate planning to probate to long-term care to insurance to wills and powers of attorney to nursing home neglect/abuse to Social Security to Medicare and Medicaid.
There are about 13 categories under the umbrella of elder law, and it will be important if you are looking for an elder-law attorney, to understand the right questions to ask to find the attorney who will be the right fit for you. Often it is personality that plays a role, but also it is more about the expertise of that attorney in the particular area of concern that you may have.
What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
An elder law attorney can serve as a very important adviser for a senior citizen and/or his or her family in legal and financial matters pertaining to elderly people. Whether it’s planning the estate to setting up long-term care options to powers of attorney, wills and trust – even end-of-life and real-estate issues – an elder law attorney can navigate you and your family through the various issues that will arise at some point.
There are many attorneys who at least dabble in some aspects of elder law, but there are certified elder law attorneys (with the CELA designation) who have a broader and deeper knowledge of the various areas of elder law.
Some people do hire a financial planner and an elder-law attorney for financial and legal matters, respectively, and the two professionals can often work together in consultation. However, if you can only afford to hire one, an elder-law attorney might be the wiser move since many financial issues do have legal guidelines and regulations that an attorney can help interpret – and the attorney would know enough about financial details to be a sound adviser in getting your affairs in order.
If you are in the market for an elder law attorney, try to ask these questions to find the right fit for your particular need:
- How long have you been practicing law (in general)?
- What percentage of time do you dedicate to elder law matters?
- Do you have a specialty within elder law?
- What would I need for our first meeting?
- What is your fee schedule?
No matter what specific need you might have within elder law, a certified elder law attorney can help you with any topic. As many elder law situations involve differing state laws and regulations, it is best to hire an elder law attorney who practices in the state where your elderly family member lives so as to not create confusion and legal troubles later.
Having an elder law attorney, at least on a retainer basis, can be a very sound investment for you and your family for when the inevitable happens, and the transfer of the estate goes on harmoniously and with little to no hassles.