Many people hope they will never have to consult with an elder law attorney because they believe these legal specialists focus primarily on protecting the rights of seniors against abuse or neglect. While this may be a significant part of their work, many of these practitioners handle a variety of legal topics that are directly or indirectly related to aging. In fact, seniors may need to consult with a litigation attorney with experience in a variety of arenas in order to protect their rights or guard their future. Some of the most common areas of practice for attorneys who work with older citizens are outlined here.
Elder Law To Remedy Abuse, Neglect Or Discrimination Against Seniors
This is what most people think of when they hear the phrase “elder law.” When an older adult is neglected in a nursing home, abused by a caregiver or is denied housing based on their age, elder law specialists can step in to represent these individuals, ensuring that the latest legal precedents meant to protect older Americans will be used to correct the situation and ensure that the client is given every reasonable expectation of quality care and safe housing without discrimination. In many of these situations, a litigation attorney will represent his or her clients in an actual courtroom setting, particularly if someone has tried to scam a client out of money or has attempted to coerce them into giving over money or property.
Estate Planning & Probate
These are topics best handled by elder wills lawyers who are familiar with the many concerns older clients have about their wills, estates, assets and heirs. In the ideal world, you will consult with them well before you pass away so that your children and heirs won’t have to work with litigation attorneys to settle your estate. Elder wills lawyers can help you draw up a variety of paperwork, including a last will and testament, various estate documents such as trusts, and any tax documentation needed. Specialists focusing on estate planning can also prepare a living will or power of attorney in order to minimize the risk of an unwelcome guardianship being needed when a senior can no longer care for himself or herself.
This specific area of the law focuses on helping you prepare for the time when you may no longer be able to care for yourself or make appropriate decisions because you’ve developed dementia. Unfortunately, many individuals put this off until it’s too late, when one or more of your descendants may have to petition for guardianship in order to protect you. While their motives may be noble, you may wish that someone else had been appointed. This is why it’s imperative to meet with elder law specialists to plan in advance or with a litigation attorney when someone files for guardianship if you believe you are still capable of caring for yourself. Alzheimer’s planning can also include powers of attorney, special needs considerations and application for government or Medicaid benefits.
Protecting your assets as you grow older will quickly become a major consideration. Asset protection specialists can work with you to protect your home and property against foreclosure if you’ve been struggling to keep up. A litigation attorney can help you fight back against bill collectors or medical offices who may be hounding you for payments. They can also help you plan your estate, putting your wishes in writing so that your estate is handled properly after your death.
It’s clear that elder law covers a wide range of topics. As you grow older, taking the time to work with elder wills lawyers now can protect your heirs in the future, and a litigation attorney with expertise in representing the elderly can protect your own rights within your lifetime.