Transitioning Into Elder Law
Are you an attorney considering transitioning into elder law? Many attorneys who specialize in tax trusts, or estate planning often find themselves turning their practice into this specialty. Seniors face complex legal concerns that are often different from what they faced when they were younger and are often much more vulnerable. Actions taken may have unintended legal effects, and protecting these clients is at the core of elder law and NAELA members.
So, What Exactly Is Elder Law?
Elder law encompasses many different fields of law. An elder law attorney specializes in how to best use their knowledge to fit the needs of seniors. Some of these fields include:
• Preservation/transfer of assets seeking to avoid spousal impoverishment when a spouse enters a nursing home
• Medicare claims and appeals
• Social security and disability claims and appeals
• Supplemental and long-term health insurance issues
• Disability planning, including use of durable powers of attorney, living trusts, "living wills," for financial management and health care decisions, and other means of delegating management and decision-making to another in case of incompetency or incapacity
• Conservatorships and guardianships
• Estate planning, including planning for the management of one's estate during life and its disposition on death through the use of trusts, wills, and other planning documents
• Administration and management of trusts and estates
• Long-term care placements in nursing home and life care communities
• Nursing home issues including questions of patients' rights and nursing home quality
• Elder abuse and fraud recovery cases
• Housing issues, including discrimination and home equity conversions
• Retirement, including public and private retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and pension benefits
• Health law
• Mental health law
Most elder law attorneys do not specialize in every one of these areas but rather select a few areas and refer other cases not in their specialty.
Why Elder Law?
Every day in the United States, 10,000 people turn 65, and the number of older adults will more than double over the next several decades and represent over 20 percent of the population by 2050. That is a large possible clientele population. And as they age they will need advice on how to navigate health issues and pay for these services as well as ensuring any surviving spouse has enough to live on as well.
Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey
reveals that in the United States, a private room in a nursing home costs an average of $8,121 a month. For a semi-private room, the average cost is $7,148 a month. Various factors impact how much a nursing home stay costs including location, size, length of stay and services offered. According to the Center for Disease Control’s most recent statistics, 1.4 million seniors lived in nursing homes in 2014 with 15,600 nursing homes in operation.
NAELA’s founding members helped create what the practice of elder law is today and was established to educate, inspire, serve and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder or special needs law.
NAELA helps its members thrive in practices that are personally and financially rewarding. And NAELA stands out as an organization that believes attorneys should aspire to a higher level of professional practice standards. Every member pledges to uphold the Aspirational Standards as a requirement of membership, making their membership a personal commitment.