Most people have never heard the term elder law and only learn about elder law matters when they start approaching retirement age or step into a caregiver role for older family members. Some people conflate the term elder law with probate law or estate planning, but there are some differences.
Probate law specifically relates to the administration of an estate after someone dies, and estate planning can focus on individual needs at many different stages in someone’s life. An unmarried 18-year-old headed off to college, for example, will likely require advanced directives and a basic estate plan, which certainly would not fall under the umbrella of elder law.
Elder law involves issues that affect adults over retirement age, their close family members and the caregivers that support them. What are some of the services provided by elder law practices?
One of the most basic elder law considerations is estate planning. From how much life insurance someone purchases to how they transfer property to their loved ones, there will be unique circumstances that depend on someone’s family relationship and personal property. Elder law attorneys have the necessary education and experience to address the unique concerns of a specific testator.
Asset protection and Medicaid planning
Elder law attorneys often provide support for those who will need health care services or worry about creditors taking their major assets after retirement.
From exploring Medicare supplements to protecting your family home from creditors and Medicaid recovery efforts, there are many ways in which an elder law attorney can help someone prepare to manage long-term care costs and other financial obligations when they live on a fixed income during their retirement.
Perhaps an older adult wants to create powers of attorney to arrange for their care if they require support when they age. Maybe family members need to seek an involuntary guardianship over a struggling loved one who did not plan ahead of time. Elder law attorneys can both help people plan for future incapacitation and protect a loved one struggling to live independently.
Elder law attorneys can also provide financial advice, insurance review services and estate planning updates for those who created documents earlier in life. Understanding what elder law services entail could help you connect with the right support as you plan for your golden years.