What is Elder Law?

What is Elder Law?

By Kiffanie A. Phillips

Elder law attorneys are advocates for the aging and their loved ones. Elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to estate planning, health care, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and other important matters.  Elder law attorneys are "specialists" because of their focus on the needs of older adults, which are often different and more specialized than the needs of younger adults. Not only can they handle important financial and estate planning matters, they also take care of day-to-day issues affecting the actual care of seniors, such as assisted living and life planning.

An elder law attorney not only advises a client about public benefits (including Medicaid and Veteran’s benefits) that may be available to help pay for long-term care, but they can also assist with the qualification and application process.  As part of this process, elder law attorneys often engage in asset preservation to protect a client’s assets from the high costs of long-term care.

Elder law attorneys receive special training and experience in the relevant legal issues that affect seniors, which makes them better equipped to understand and meet the needs of their aging clients and their families.  The following are some of the most common legal issues handled by elder law attorneys in Oregon and Washington:

·         Medicaid coverage for long-term care;

·         Long-term care planning;

·         Estate planning and administration;

·         Guardianships and conservatorships;

·         Elder abuse and fraud;

·         Probate; and

·         Establishing and administering various types trusts.

Finally, elder law is not just for the elderly. Elder Law also encompasses special needs planning.  Elder law attorneys are familiar with the different types of special needs trust that may be available to a disabled individual and can advise which option is the best for a particular client. 

When it comes to aging, planning ahead is of great importance and an elder law attorney is often one of several professionals who can help you and your family steer the course. From estate planning to healthcare, in addition to preparing legal documents an elder law attorney can help identify issues and provide the information and resources you will utilize in your decision making.