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Elder Law
December 1st, 2015 9:36 AM
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Elder law is much more than estate planning.  Although estate planning, wills and probate are definitely part of elder law, the central focus is on life, not death.  Often, it's not what happens when a person dies that is of greatest concern to elder law attorneys and their clients; it's what happens if a person lives longer than expected, if their situation (physical, mental or financial) changes dramatically, and what preparations need to be made in advance of those potential scenarios.  

A sad example:  A widowed judge transferred his house into his daughter's name.  They were extremely close and he trusted her completely.  Several years later, the daughter unexpectedly died.  Since she was still young, with more debts than assets, she never made a will.  The state gave half the house to her husband and the other half to their son.  A few weeks later, the son-in-law suggested that "Dad" make other living arrangements.  The Judge had no legal means to recover the property.  

Like the widowed judge, most people don't understand all the ways the decisions they make now will affect their long-term future.  An experienced elder law attorney can help recognize and plan for the overlaps in areas of personal finances, future physical care, what can be left to children/grandchildren, the difference between what Medicare and Medicaid can cover, tax implications, and many other important decisions.

Elder law is a fairly new legal field.  It differs from most other areas of practice, which are typically based on a type of law instead of a particular type of client.  It involves a number of legal areas, such as guardianships, estate planning, elder abuse, asset protection, age discrimination, disability, trust planning and much more.  Founded in 1994, the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF.org) is the only national certifying organization for elder law attorneys accredited by the American Bar Association.  The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. (NAELA.org) offers an online directory of 4,000+ members.  You can also ask a local attorney for recommendations in this particular field.  It may be well worth while to choose a lawyer who has gained experience in all the areas needed both now and in the future.  

written by Barbara Doeringer

Posted in:Personal
Posted by Allen Doeringer on December 1st, 2015 9:36 AMPost a Comment

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