What is Elder Law?

Elder law attorneys concentrate their practices in, and direct their services to, the specific needs of older clients and clients with disabilities.  Elder law attorneys practice in multiple areas of law including estate planning, Medicare, Social Security, retirement income planning, disability planning, Medicaid (MassHealth in Massachusetts), guardianship and conservatorship, and the probate and administration of estates.  Elder law attorneys also litigate claims and defend their clients when necessary.

Today’s older Americans face the real possibility of seeking long-term care in a nursing home for themselves or a loved one.  Long-term care in nursing homes consists mainly of assistance with the tasks of daily living such as eating, dressing, and bathing.  Medicare or private medical insurance does not cover this care.  While long-term care insurance policies are available to those who can afford them, the primary financial assistance available to the middle class is Medicaid.

Although Medicaid is a national program, it is administered individually by each state. Medicaid, unlike Medicare, is a public assistance program with many rules and prerequisites for eligibility.  The Medicaidrules are complicated and change frequently.  An elder law attorney must keep track of these changes in order to help clients with proper planning to avoid depleting savings and even losing your home.  An elder law attorney will assist you to create an estate plan expressing your wishes and allowing you to retain as much control of your assets as the law allows.  Prior planning for disability with the assistance of an elder law attorney will ease these financial and emotional transitions.  Formalizing your wishes in this way can avoid the need to pursue other, more costly, avenues such as guardianship or conservatorship

Even without pre-planning, in a crisis situation an elder law attorney can assist a couple or a single person, to take steps to preserve some or all of their assets.

Educating oneself about the issues should not be limited just to elders.  A sudden disability or accident can strike any one of us.

So, do you need an elder law attorney?  If you want to maintain control over your future and not leave things to chance, I think the answer is yes.


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