We all aim for a long and prosperous life, complete with financial security and good health. In our golden years, we can hopefully enjoy leisurely retirement while finding new pursuits outside of work. But, as we get older, we may face issues with our health, such as decreasing mobility and mental clarity.
Further, having enough money for retirement is never guaranteed and individuals with a fixed income may face a number of potential challenges. FindLaw's Elder Law section covers a wide range of legal matters unique to aging and elderly Americans, such as long-term care options and elder abuse.
What Exactly is Elder Law?
Elder law includes a wide range of issues affecting older individuals, from drafting a power of attorney to seeking recourse for consumer scams that target the elderly. An elder law attorney may help his or her clients with a variety of issues, such as the following:
- Problems with Health Care Benefits (Insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid)
- Social Security Issues
- Estate Planning
- Elder Abuse
- Long-Term Care
- Guardianship and Conservatorship
Passage of the Older Americans Act (OOA) in 1965, the same year Medicare was created, marked a significant federal recognition of legal matters unique to the elderly. The OOA created the Administration on Aging within the Department of Health and Human Services and established state grants for research and community services affecting older individuals.
Later amendments to OOA included a national nutrition program for the elderly and the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which was intended to help families caring for older loved ones through support groups and financial assistance.
Does Elder Law Include End-of-Life Issues?
Most end-of-life issues fall within the scope of elder law, although family members of the elderly often help with the process. As we approach the end of our lives, we or our loved ones may choose to draft a living will, appoint a health care agent, sign an advance directive, and even state how we would like our remains treated after death. A handful of states even allow the terminally ill to end their lives through assisted suicide.
Some of these legal documents can even be handled yourself with a DIY living will form.
How Can an Elder Law Attorney Help Me?
An elder law attorney can help you navigate the complexities of various state and federal laws to help you better plan for your later years, giving you peace of mind. Although elder law as a practice area is quite diverse, the best elder law attorneys understand the unique needs of elderly clients.