What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?
Elder law attorneys are advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. Most elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important matters.
In many ways, 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, but they also take care of day-to-day issues affecting the actual care of seniors, such as assisted living and life planning.
In addition, elder law attorneys are often more equipped to handle the sensitive emotional and physical needs of older or disabled adults and are therefore able to handle a variety of challenging situations.
How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help Me?
An elder law attorney can help with any one of the following:
- Discuss the importance of wills and estate planning, including planning for a minor or adult with special needs, probate proceedings, and other matters.
- Create a durable power of attorney.
- Provide help with health care and planning, including long term care options, patient rights, Medicare, and health care power of attorney.
- Financial representation: financial planning (including durable financial power of attorney), housing opportunities and planning, income, estate, and gift tax matters.
- Guardianship: help with the selection and appointment of a legal guardian.
- Help locate long term care facilities and manage assisted living cost.
- Explain nursing home resident rights and help file nursing home claims.
- Draft a living will or other advance directives, including a durable power of attorney and long term planning documents.
How Do Elder Law Attorneys Bill for Their Services?
Elder law attorneys generally charge by the hour based on the type of work. In some cases, elder law attorneys charge a predetermined flat rate charge based on the type of work, such as review and signing of documents, filing of tax returns, and will preparation.
What Questions Should I Ask an Elder Law Attorney?
Most elder law attorneys do not specialize in every area of law affecting seniors, so it is important to hire an attorney who has experience in your particular area of concern. Also, before selecting an elder law attorney, you should feel comfortable that he or she will represent you or your loved one in a sensitive and understanding manner.
Here are some questions you should ask:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- What percentage of your time is devoted to elder law?
- Do you have a particular emphasis on a certain area within elder law?
- What information should I prepare for our first meeting?
- How are your fees computed?
How to Find an Elder Law Attorney
There are numerous ways to find a qualified elder law attorney. Referrals from friends and family or online research may be a good start. However, not all websites are the same and unless you live in the same state as your friend or relative, or have unlimited hours to spend online, you may wish to find a local elder law attorney using FindLaw's attorney directory.
Learn more about state-specific laws on our elder law legal answers page.