Older Adult Law: Basics and Overview
FindLaw's Older Adult Law section covers many legal matters unique to older Americans, such as long-term care options, incapacity, and older adult abuse.
This legal area has a variety of issues, such as the following:
- Problems with public benefits (Insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid)
- Issues with private health care benefits and providers
- Social Security issues
- Estate planning
- Older adult abuse
- Long-term care planning and costs
- Nursing home abuse, costs, state laws, or other issues
- Home care vs. assisted living decisions
- Guardianship and conservatorship
- Real estate issues like selling a home or passing it on to children
- Special Needs Trusts
- Care and long-term planning for vulnerable adults
- Dispute resolution for families
History of Older Adult Law
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 older people. 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.
Finances for Older Adults
Enough money for retirement is never guaranteed. Individuals with a fixed income may face several potential challenges. And even if they have substantial money, there are concerns about asset protection, scams, and planning for eventual diminished capacity.
Health Care for Older Adults
There are legal issues surrounding patient advocacy, diminished decision-making skills, and end-of-life choices. Older adults and their loved ones also need to consider comfort and care that fits into everyone's finances and benefit plans.
Does Elder Law Include End-of-Life Issues?
Most end-of-life issues fall within the scope of older adult law, although family members of the elderly often help with the process. As we approach the end of our lives, we can 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.
You can even handle some of these legal documents yourself with a DIY living will form.
How Can an Older Adult 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 older adult law as a practice area is quite diverse, the best elder law attorneys understand the unique needs of elderly clients.
Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?
- Complex health and financial situations usually require a lawyer
- A lawyer can reduce the chances of a legal dispute
- DIY is possible in some simple cases
- You can always have an attorney review your form
Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.