As the elderly population began to grow several decades ago, it started to become clear that the legal issues that impact them needed to be addressed. Consequently, the relatively new area of the law known as “elder law” began to evolve. An elder law lawyer, therefore, is a lawyer who has chosen to focus much, or all, of his/her practice on legal issues that impact the elderly and those who care for them. Unlike other areas of specialty, however, an elder law lawyer does not focus on learning everything there is to know about a single area of the law. Instead, an elder law lawyer is more concerned with how the elderly, and their caregivers, are impacted by various legal issues and problems.
Elder law attorneys focus on the unique needs of the elderly and those who care for them. Some common types of legal matters for which you might need an elder law attorney include:
- Denial of disability
- Housing discrimination
- Estate planning
- Health insurance issues
- Retirement planning
- Nursing home abuse
- Medicaid planning
- Veteran’s benefits
Recent figures indicate that 65.7 million informal and family caregivers provide care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged in the U.S. Lost income and benefits over a caregiver’s lifetime is estimated to range from a total of $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women, or an average of $303,880.30. Caregivers face emotional stress, financial hardship, and often legal struggles as a result of the care they provide. As a result, caregivers frequently benefit from the help of an experienced elder law attorney. A caregiver may need advice on how to get a loved one approved for Medicaid benefits or may need help petitioning for guardianship over their loved one.
Most basic health insurance plans will not cover the costs associated with long-term care nor will Medicare. Unless you have the resources to cover the high cost of nursing home care out of pocket and indefinitely, you will likely find yourself turning to Medicaid for help. To be eligible, however, you must contend with very low “countable resources” limits that can put your retirement nest egg at risk if you failed to plan ahead. An elder law attorney can help you incorporate Medicaid planning into your overall estate plan to ensure your eligibility when the time comes that you need to qualify for Medicaid.
Making the decision to seek guardianship over a parent is never easy; however, it may become necessary to prevent serious injury and/or victimization by those who prey on the elderly. An elder law attorney can help you pursue guardianship to ensure that you have the legal authority necessary to protect and care for your parent.
Most people who care for the elderly do so with kindness and patience; however, there are those who prey on society’s most vulnerable, including those in nursing home care. Conservative estimates indicate that more than 40 percent of nursing home residents have reported abuse, and more than 90 percent report that they or another resident of the facility have been neglected. Elder abuse is a crime; however, it can also form the basis of a civil lawsuit against the facility. If you suspect that a loved one is the victim of nursing home abuse, an elder law attorney can discuss your legal options with you.
The facts and figures for Alzheimer’s disease are shocking. One in three seniors with die with Alzheimer’s or another form of age related dementia. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is typically followed by a period of heightened emotions and confusion, making it difficult to focus on the practical and legal ramifications of the diagnosis. Do not wait too long to consult with an elder law attorney though, as there are some important legal steps that should be taken as soon as possible to protect you, your parent, his/her estate.
The population of older Americans has increased at an unprecedented pace in recent years, and experts tell us it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The growth of the elderly population in the U.S. prompted the evolution of a new area of specialty within the law – elder law. While seniors – and those who care for them — face many of the same legal issues that their younger counterparts encounter, they also have unique legal problems and issues that are best served by an attorney who focuses on elder law. To help you better understand why and when you might need an elder law attorney, the elder law attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP have created the following questions and answers related to elder law. If you have specific questions about an elder law legal matter, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
If you have questions relating to elder law in the State of Illinois, contact the experienced Illinois elder law attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your free consultation.