What Is Elder Law?
With medical advancements, the average age of both males and females has increased incredibly. The issue of a growing age population is also deemed to be an issue legally. That is why there are elder law attorneys.
Recently Heard’s recent article entitled “What Are the Major Categories That Make Up Elder Law?” explains that the practice of elder law has three major categories:
- Estate planning and administration, including tax issues
- Medicaid, disability, and long-term care issues; and
- Guardianship, conservatorship, and commitment issues.
Estate Planning and Administration. Estate planning falls under the rubric, “Elder Law.” Estate planning is the process of knowing who gets what. This can include children, spouses, and even the government (via the IRS) and creditors. With a will in place, most people can make certain that the process is completed smoothly. Although to do proper estate and gift tax planning, much more would be needed. Generally, with a will, you can be relieved to know that your estate will be distributed as you intended. If you are concerned about taxes, you need to go beyond “estate planning” and talk with a tax attorney. Not all estate planners are tax planners. The area of estate planning also usually includes “asset protection planning”, which is meant to protect assets from frivolous lawsuits and preserve assets. The use of legal entities (LLCs and corporations) and trusts are often used.
Medicaid, Disability, and Long-Term Care Issues. Elder law evolved as a special area of practice because of the aging population. As people grow older, they have more medically-related issues. Medicaid is a state-funded program that supports those with little or no income. The disability and long-term care issues are plans for those who need around-the-clock care. Elder law attorneys help coordinate all aspects of elder care, such as Medicare eligibility, special trust creation and choosing long-term care options. This area of the law can often be challenging to the typical tax attorney. Clients in this area are usually serviced by a series of gifts (or uncompensated transfers) which the client can nevertheless control during their lives. Living trusts are a main service component. But not all trusts (the typical “living trust”) will do. Expert advice is needed.
Interdiction (Guardianship), Curatorship (Conservatorship), and Commitment Matters. This category also falls under the term, “Elder Law”. This category is fairly straightforward. When a person ages, a disability or mental impairment may mean that he or she cannot act rationally or make decisions on his or her own. A court may appoint an individual to serve as the guardian over the person or as the conservator the estate, when it determines that it is required. The most common form of disability requiring conservatorship is Alzheimer’s, and a court may appoint an attorney to be the conservator, if there is no appropriate relative available.
Reference: Recently Heard (May 26, 2021) “What Are the Major Categories That Make Up Elder Law?”