What Is Elder Law?

In this article...
  • Elder law is a specialized legal area that assists seniors with sorting out matters related to family members, health and finances. Find out what it involves.
Lawyer Working With Her Client

Elder law is a specific area of legal practice that specializes in issues affecting senior populations. It typically encompasses a range of issues, including financial and legal, and these issues can often become complex for older adults.

The nuances of elder law vary widely from state to state, and that's why it can help having an elder care lawyer on your side if you need to sort out a complex legal or medical situation.

Elder Care Attorneys

Elder law attorneys help seniors navigate through potentially tricky situations involving medical decisions. They may also assist you with financial planning, property management and understanding what might happen should you become physically or mentally unable to take care of yourself as you get older.

Essentially, elder care attorneys can act as advocates for seniors and their family members. They can help you make decisions related to:

  • Health care
  • Long-term care planning
  • Estate planning
  • Guardianship
  • Retirement
  • Social Security
  • Medicare/Medicaid planning
  • Will drafting and planning
  • Planning for a minor or adult child with special needs
  • Creating a power of attorney

Elder care lawyers are often more equipped to handle the sensitive emotional and physical needs of seniors and their loved ones, which is why older Americans often seek them out when they need assistance with planning.

Elder Care Law vs Estate Planning

Although there is some overlap, elder care law isn't the same thing as estate law. Estate law involves planning out what to leave your loved ones when you die and the intricacies of how that's done to minimize financial complications and tax consequences.

Elder law is a bit broader and addresses your finances, property and assets to be used for your care while you're still alive and can also involve medical decisions.

Who Might Need an Elder Care Attorney?

You might benefit from the help an elder care lawyer provides if you have a particularly complex family or financial situation. Some of the possibilities might include:

  • You've been married multiple times
  • You own property or real estate in more than one state
  • You own a business or multiple businesses
  • You've become disabled or you have a disabled family member who you care for
  • You're interested in leaving your estate to charity
  • You have substantial retirement assets wrapped up in 401(k)s or IRAs

Elder Law Resources

If you're interested in finding an elder care lawyer, you can consult a few reputable resources. 

FindLaw, for example, offers an elder care attorney directory where you can search for an elder law attorney in your local area. 

Another resource is the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), an organization that aims to improve the quality of legal services provided to older adults and individuals with disabilities. It sponsors continuing education programs for attorneys and advocates on public policy issues.

You can use its find a lawyer directory to find a qualified elder care lawyer in your region.