Around 16 percent of the U.S population is made up of senior citizens. Additionally, the United Nations predicts that 1 in 6 individuals will likely be above the age of 65 by the year 2050.

Given these statistics, it is only natural that there be lawyers who choose to cater to this demographic and specialize in the field of elder law that exists to protect their interests.

But what is elder law? And what does an elder law attorney do?

Let’s take a deeper look.

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

Elder law is a branch of law that covers issues generally experienced by the older population. A good elder law attorney simplifies the process by addressing a client’s concerns, negotiating on their behalf, and making sure that their interests are protected at all times.

Here are some of the issues an elder law attorney would be able to help you with.

Estate Planning and Wills

Estate planning allows for seniors to make decisions regarding their assets and the ownership of these assets in the event of death. An elder law attorney will help you draft your final will, where you can outline your final wishes for your property, finances, and any other valuable material assets.

This also includes the setting up of a trust, donating finances to charity, upon death and other similar decisions.

Social Security Benefits

Most seniors are eligible for some type of social security benefits. However, going through the process of applying for these benefits can be tedious, and not every senior is up to the hassle it involves.

Here, an elder law attorney can help by making sure you get the benefits you’re entitled to in a timely manner. Your benefits may also depend on your age, your employment status, the state you live in and any other disability you may have.

An attorney would help navigate these issues and help you structure your finances and your benefits around your current needs.

Creating a Power of Attorney

If a senior is incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves, they can choose to appoint someone else to execute their decisions on their behalf. This is generally done in anticipation of such incapacity, or as a precautionary measure.

However, legally, a person can only do so when the senior has formally assigned them this power through a power of attorney.

An elder lawyer can help draft a power of attorney, and make sure that the senior’s rights are protected within the clauses of the document. Powers of attorney can assign limited powers, a comprehensive list of powers depending on the senior’s wishes.

Long-Term Healthcare for Seniors

Applying for Medicare and Medicaid benefits for seniors can be a time-consuming task that involves a lot of paperwork. Additionally, finding the right kind of insurance and making sure it fits into your future plans, whether it be a nursing home, assisted living facilities, or any other needs you may have, can be difficult for most seniors to navigate.

That’s why most elder lawyers also specialize in these areas, helping you to get the most out of your health and life insurance, and find the best facilities within your budget.

Elder Abuse

Seniors are among the most vulnerable people within the population. Whether it’s ill-meaning family members, opportunistic neighbors, fraudulent nursing homes, or caregivers, elder abuse is, unfortunately, all too common.

Sometimes it takes the form of emotional or physical abuse, sometimes it’s financial abuse, and other times it could even be sexual abuse. Seniors need someone to advocate on their behalf to ensure that their rights are protected.

If you or someone you know has suffered elder abuse, you could benefit from hiring an elder law attorney to get the justice you deserve.

Visitation Rights

Most states have some laws that allow grandparents visitation rights to their grandchildren. Now, the specifics of these laws may vary from state to state, but in principle, they exist to allow seniors the right to meet and interact with their grandchildren, particularly when the parents are divorced, or when one or both of them have died.

Additionally, if seniors have a strained relationship with the parents of these children, they may also ask for visitation rights. However, you must keep in mind that this is merely a right to ask, and not a guarantee of visitation rights.

Advance Directives

Advance directives allow seniors to specify and outline what they want and expect out of their healthcare facilities. An advance directive is made as a precaution or in anticipation of being rendered incapacitated by mental or physical illness. They are, in essence, a durable power of attorney, but are more specific to healthcare.

Guardianship

In case a senior is incapacitated and has not left behind an advance directive or a durable power of attorney, a close relative or loved one may apply for guardianship rights. An elder law attorney would be able to help make this process easier while ensuring that the senior’s needs and rights are protected throughout.

Do You Need an Elder Law Attorney?

What does an elder law attorney do? In a nutshell, they advocate for the interests of the elderly to ensure that they are not subjected to any kind of exploitation or abuse.

These are troubling times, and unfortunately, the senior population is at risk. Paying attention to your healthcare, and finances are a smart idea. If you are above the age of 60 or know someone who is, it might benefit you to talk to an elder law attorney that you trust.

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