Most people don’t know about about elder law, and much of what they know about the topic comes from what they hear from friends or associates. Consequently, a lot of people believe a number of elder law myths that have potentially harmful consequences, especially when they rely on these misconceptions. To help dispel some of the popular, but mistaken, beliefs about elder law, we’ve come up with this list of myths you need to be aware of.
Elder law only affects the elderly.
This myth is understandable because it’s simply based on language. It’s perfectly natural to assume that elder law attorneys handle the legal problems that elderly people have to face. After all, that’s what they call themselves.
And while elder law attorneys routinely help elderly people deal with a variety of legal issues, elder law doesn’t only affect the elderly. This is true for several reasons.
First, people don’t live in vacuums. When an elderly loved one or family member experiences a legal problem, that problem can also affect others. For example, if a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, that person’s family will likely have to steps in order to make decisions on that person’s behalf. Who has the legal right to do this? What is the process involved in securing decision-making abilities?
Similarly, younger people can also be affected by problems that and routinely affect only seniors or the elderly. For example, a younger person, and that person’s family, who is suddenly incapacitated will have to face many of the same legal issues that an elderly person would face.
I don’t need to worry about elder law because I’m married.
Many of the issues elderly people face are about dealing with the day-to-day difficulties that arise out of the aging process. For example, if you can no longer manage your finances you will need someone to the for you.
Many married people mistakenly believe that they can simply rely on their spouse to take over their responsibilities as they get older. While this is often a possibility, it’s never a guarantee, and neither is it always the most prudent choice. A good elder law plan will allow you to appoint representatives, even your spouse, who will be able to manage your affairs regardless of your circumstances.
I don’t have to worry about elder law yet.
Regardless of your circumstances, speaking to an elder law attorney about developing a plan is not something you should postpone. The best part about elder law is that it allows you to plan in advance, and to do so before problems arise. If you wait until the problem occurs, it could be too late.