Senior Legal Issues: Four Reasons to Consult an Elder Law Attorney

Elder law attorneys exist to address unique senior legal issues. Four of the most common issues elder law attorneys deal with include:

Preservation of Assets

Many people do not realize that Medicare does not pay for long-term care in the home or in a nursing facility. People requiring this kind of care must ordinarily spend their own money to pay for it. When their resources are depleted, they can apply for the state’s Medicaid program.

Each state has very strict laws about how a person’s assets can be used in the years before qualifying for Medicaid. For instance, a person applying for Medicaid cannot simply give his or her money to someone else to manage. An elder law attorney from can help walk clients through the minefield of Medicaid regulations and help them find ways to preserve as many of their assets as possible.

Advance Directives

Advance directives deal with people’s wishes in the event of a serious illness or injury that leaves them unable to speak for themselves. Examples of advance directives include living wills, durable powers of attorney, and do not resuscitate orders.

A living will specifies what kind of care an individual wants at the end of life, or in the event of an illness or injury that destroys the quality of life.

A durable power of attorney names an agent to make financial and medical decisions for an individual who can no longer make decisions for herself.

An outside the hospital do not resuscitate (DNR) order must be co-signed by a physician. It lets paramedics know that an individual does not want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event that his heart stops.

Estate Planning

An estate is any property owned by a person before it is distributed through a will or trust. Elder law attorneys who do estate planning can help their clients look at federal and state tax laws, probate laws, etc. They help plan the most economically efficient ways for a client to transfer his estate to his heirs.

Depending on a person’s unique situation, estate planning might involve measures such as having a will drawn up, making gifts of real or personal property to one’s intended heirs, or establishing a trust.


Many people worry about whether or not they will have enough money to retire comfortably. Elder law attorneys who specialize in retirement planning work with clients to determine how much money they will need for retirement. They then help clients make plans to meet their retirement goals.

Retirement planning may include providing money management tips, assisting clients with setting up investments, and advising the purchase of additional insurance such as long term care insurance.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. Elder law attorneys also take on issues ranging from fraud and abuse to guardianships to social security appeals.

Elder law attorneys are usually listed in the yellow pages of phone books. Another way to find an attorney specializing in senior legal issues is to visit the searchable directory of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.

Any senior who is having difficulty navigating the legal system should look into the possibility of consulting an elder law attorney. Working with someone who is familiar with the needs of the elderly can bring much needed peace of mind.