You may have heard the term “elder law attorney” used before and wondered exactly what an elder law attorney does. More specifically, you may have wondered how you would know if you need an elder law attorney. Elder law is a relatively new area of the law; however, the recent increase in the number of older Americans has caused a related increase in the need for attorneys who understand legal issues that impact the elderly. Whether you realize it or not, there is a very good chance that you will need the services of an elder law attorney at some point in your lifetime. Consider the following three reasons why you might need an elder law attorney.
The Birth of “Elder Law”
The increase in the elderly population has led to an increase in the need for services catering to the elderly, including legal services. While older individuals face many of the same legal issues that younger people do, they also have some unique legal needs and concerns. With this in mind, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or NAELA, was formed in the late 1980s as a way to better serve this growing segment of the population. Five years after the creation of NAELA, the National Elder Law Foundation was formed. The purpose of the non-profit NELF was to help improve the professional skills of attorneys who choose to focus on elder law. Toward that end, NELF then developed a national certification program for attorneys known as the Certified Elder Law Attorney, or CELA, certification program. The first CELA examination was given in 1994 with the American Bar Association endorsing the certification program the following year.
Three Reasons You Might Need an Elder Law Attorney
An elder law attorney is an attorney that focuses more on the way in which various areas of the law impact the elderly and those who care for them than on the minutia of a specific area of the law. As such, you could find yourself turning to an elder law attorney for a wide variety of reasons; however, some of the more common reasons for retaining the services of an elder law attorney include:
- Medicaid planning – although you may not realize it at the moment, you stand a very good chance of needing to qualify for Medicaid at some point in the future. The reason for this is that you also stand a very good chance of needing long-term care at some point in the future – and the cost of that care will be high. With an average nationwide yearly cost of $80,000 and rising, the average person cannot cover LTC out of pocket. The problem is that neither your private health insurance not Medicare will help cover your LTC expenses either. Medicaid, however, does cover LTC for those who qualify. The trick is to qualify without putting your hard-earned assets at risk which is where the need for Medicaid planning becomes important.
- Guardianship – if you are the adult child, or other caretaker, of an older individual who is showing signs of incapacity, it may be time to consider guardianship. Petitioning for guardianship is best accomplished with the assistance of an experienced elder law attorney to ensure that the process moves along without any major obstacles.
- VA/SS benefits – as a senior, you may be entitled to a number of government sponsored benefits, such as Social Security or Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefits. Sometimes, however, getting approved for those benefits can be an uphill battle. If you find yourself struggling to get approved for benefits to which you are certain you are entitled, it may be time to consult with an experienced elder law attorney. In addition, if you are unsure what benefits you may be entitled to as a senior and/or a veteran/survivor of a veteran, it may be a good idea to sit down with an elder law attorney and review your options.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about elder law or reasons you might need the services of an elder law attorney, contact the experienced North Dakota elder law attorneys at German Law by calling 701-738-0060 to schedule an appointment.