Rather than being defined by technical legal distinctions, Elder Law is defined by the client to be served. “Elder Law” is the legal practice of counselling and representing older persons and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long-term care planning, including Medicaid payments for long term care, decision making upon the senior’s incapacity, through the use of Durable Powers of Attorney and Trusts, Asset preservation to protect a community spouse or a legacy for the family, transfer of assets upon death through the use of Trusts or probate. In other words, the lawyer who practices elder law may handle a range of issues but has a specific type of client–seniors. Elder law attorneys focus on the legal needs of the elderly and work with a variety of legal tools and techniques to meet the goals and objectives of the older client.
Elder law attorneys deal with legal issues involving getting older, including:
- Health and personal care planning, which include the following topics: powers of attorney and living wills; lifetime planning; family issues;
- Fiduciary (financial) representation; financial planning; housing opportunities and financing; income, estate, and gift tax matters;
- Planning for a well spouse when the other spouse requires long term care; Asset protection; public benefits such as Medicaid and insurance; Veterans’ benefits;
- Capacity; guardianship and guardianship avoidance;
- Resident rights in long term care facilities; nursing home claims;
- Employment and retirement matters; age or disability discrimination and grandparents’ rights.
- Will and trust planning; planning for minor or adult special needs children; probate;
Elder law encompasses all aspects of planning for ageing, illness, and incapacity. The specialization requires a practitioner to be particularly sensitive to the legal issues impacting elder clients.