In today’s blog post in our ongoing series on basic estate planning questions, we are going to focus a bit on the topic of elder law and why it is so important. Most people do not have much experience with elder law, and those who do may not understand exactly what it is an elder law attorney does. To help clarify this important area of the law, here are some basic estate planning questions about it.
Basic Estate Planning Question. What is elder law?
Elder law is the area of the law that focuses on legal issues that occur primarily because of the aging process. All of us experience significant changes as we age. While many of the changes we experience don’t necessarily involve legal questions, some of them do. When these legal questions arise, elder law attorneys are there to help.
For example, let’s say that you are a senior citizen and have learned that your spouse has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Does this mean that your spouse is no longer able to make decisions? Do you have the legal authority to make decisions on your spouse’s behalf? Does your spouse have the ability to make a plan that will transfer decision-making authority to you?
All of these questions are issues that elder law attorneys deal with on a daily basis. Not only can an elder law attorney help you if you face such a situation, but can also help you plan ahead for the possibility of it happening to you, or help you understand what options you have if such a situation should happen to a close family member or loved one.
Basic Estate Planning Question. Why would a young person ever need to talk to an elder law lawyer?
There are several possible answers to this question. First, young people who have elderly people in their lives can be confronted with a situation they know little about. For example, do you know what you can do to help an elderly parent or grandparent who you believe is being subjected to abuse or otherwise being victimized? On the other hand, let’s say that you are a parent with a young child. Do you know what would happen to that child if you become incapacitated? Do you know what you can do to plan ahead for this possibility?
Basic Estate Planning Question. If I am an older person, is an elder law attorney all I need?
No. Elder law attorneys don’t deal with every legal problem that an elderly person faces. For example, if you want to hire a lawyer who will help you with a traffic ticket, you need to speak to a criminal defense attorney. Elder law attorneys deal with issues that arise out of the aging process, and that doesn’t necessarily mean they have experience with every legal problems elderly people face.
Our firm practices in both the estate planning and elder law fields.