What Does an Elder Care Attorney Do?
At some point in your life, you will undoubtedly need solid legal counsel, and, just as there are many different specialists within the medical arena to treat physical ailments, there are several varieties of specialists within the legal field to cater to any number of issues that arise in life.
For older adults, however, hiring an elder care attorney may be something to consider, especially in light of the many complex issues seniors face as they age. Certainly, any attorney can provide assistance with legal issues, and it is not completely necessary to turn to a legal specialist in the aging population arena. Yet just as a general surgeon might have an understanding of the intricacies of the brain, you might feel more comfortable having a neurosurgeon–a medical specialist–perform a brain operation. That analogy lends itself well to why it is important to consider working with an elder care attorney as your life needs change in the latter part of life.
As we age, our life circumstances change and so do the many issues affecting us, from Social Security matters to estate planning, Medicaid/Medicare, long-term care, assisted living matters, medical documents and more. Seeking counsel from a trusted professional in the area of matters pertaining to seniors is an important step; it can ensure that decisions with respect to your life as an older adult are made with proper counsel to attain the best outcome for your needs. This is when an elder care attorney can become a trusted resource.
WHAT IS AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY?
Simply stated, elder law attorneys are advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. Most of these attorneys can handle a vast range of legal matters that affect older or disabled individuals, including issues related to health care, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, long-term care planning, Medicare and Medicaid and numerous other issues relevant to seniors. Not only can these advisors handle the financial and estate planning aspects of seniors’ lives, they can also assist with the day-to-day issues that impact the actual care of seniors, including assisted living and life planning. Elder law is a unique field with many facets of guidance, advisement and understanding.
IS IT NECESSARY TO HIRE AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY?
As people age, the legal issues affecting their lives become a bit more involved, and having access to an attorney who specializes in such matters can make all the difference when it comes to unintended or unexpected legal effects of those issues. You may be thinking, “Can’t any attorney draw up my will and establish my estate plan?” Yes, that can be done. However, an attorney unfamiliar with issues such as Medicare or Medicaid can unintentionally create adverse effects that can harm your estate. The rules of Medicaid, for example, are highly complex and the provisions are not often fully understood by attorneys don’t regularly review those provisions. Be aware, however, that not every elder law attorney focuses on every single aspect of matters relating to older adults, so when choosing one, it is imperative to know what areas encompass his or her specialties.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc., clarifies that an elder law attorney will use his or her knowledge to best fit the needs of older clients. An elder law attorney focuses his or her practice on the express legal needs of seniors and works with multiple legal tools and techniques designed to meet the goals and objectives of the older client.
An elder law attorney has a solid understanding of the issues facing seniors and can better serve clients when it comes to ignoring the myths related to aging and competence of seniors. Because of this knowledge, an elder law attorney can more readily determine the difference between the physical versus the mental disability of a client. Further, elder law attorneys enjoy an informal system of other specialists, including social workers, psychologists and other elder care professionals who can offer their guidance and assistance.
When you hire an elder law attorney, you are essentially hiring peace of mind. You will have confidence that the legal advice you desire will be delivered by an expert who is dedicated to meeting the express legal needs of people in the afternoon of life. ■
Sources: elder.findlaw.com and www.naela.org.