What is an Elder Law?

Elder law is a specialized area of legal practice, covering estate planning, wills, trusts, arrangements for care, social security and retirement benefits, protection against elder abuse (physical, emotional and financial), and other involving involving older people. Most elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important matters. What is an Elder Law Attorney? Most elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important matters.

The Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA) is a professional association of attorneys who are dedicated to assisting clients with public benefits, probate and estate planning, guardianship/conservatorship, and health and long-term care planning.

The legal needs of many older Americans go beyond basic legal services, and they’re all interconnected. In addition to understanding the legal issues and complications that older Americans face, elder law attorneys must also understand the surrounding personal concerns of their clients for example, health, financial, and family issues and how those affect their clients legal issues. An elder law attorney can help with any one of the following:

  • Discuss the importance of wills and estate planning, including planning for a minor or adult with special needs, probate proceedings, and other matters.
  • Create a durable power of attorney.
  • Provide help with health care and planning, including long term care options, patient rights, Medicare, and health care power of attorney.
  • Financial representation: financial planning (including durable financial power of attorney), housing opportunities and planning, income, estate, and gift tax matters.
  • Guardianship: help with the selection and appointment of a legal guardian.
  • Help locate long term care facilities and manage assisted living cost.
  • Explain nursing home resident rights and help file nursing home claims.
  • Draft a living will or other advance directives, including a durable power of attorney and long term planning documents.

There are special certifications for elder law attorneys such as the Certified Elder Law Attorney credential from the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). To earn this certification, you must have at least five years of experience practicing law, and have spent at least sixteen hours per week in the field of elder law during the previous three years, among other qualifications. The examination process lasts a full day.

An elder law attorney can be a great partner for you as you plan out the legal and financial aspects of the next stage of your life or the life of a loved one. Ask how long the attorney has been practicing, the percentage of his or her practice that has been in elder law, and whether there are aspects of this field the attorney specializes in and you should be able to find the right attorney for you.

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