By Rebecca Barnes, Prince William Living Publisher
May is National Elder Law Month. If you or someone you care about is a senior, consider consulting an elder law attorney to make sure your financial and medical affairs are in order. Without specialized help, actions taken may have unintended legal effects.
What Is Elder Law?
According to the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, elder law is a specialized area of law that involves representing, counseling and assisting seniors, people with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues. Typically, elder law attorneys address the client’s perspective from a holistic viewpoint by discussing legal, medical, financial, social and family issues.
Demand for Elder Law Is Growing
The number of older individuals in the population is projected to increase to 71.5 million in 2030, representing nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population (www.agingstats.gov). The result will be a growing need for specialized legal advice about aging-related issues. Elder law attorneys specialize in handling:
■ Estate planning and probate.
■ Estate and gift tax planning.
■ Guardianship and conservatorship.
■ Medicaid and Medicare.
■ Entitlement programs.
■ Retirement benefits.
■ Age discrimination.
■ Elder abuse and neglect.
■ Housing and long-term care financing.
■ Medical decision making.
■ Disability planning and insurance.
Why Hire an Elder Law Attorney?
Hiring an elder law attorney will give you peace of mind that the legal advice you seek will come from an expert in the specific legal needs that arise as people age.
“Failure to plan and seek an experienced professional can result in paying more taxes, little control over who gets your property, and many times hurt feelings that leave family members at odds,” said Constance Bourne, an elder law attorney in Gainesville.
For more information about the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, go to www.NAELA.org.
Lifelong Prince William resident Rebecca Barnes, when not producing Prince William Living, is the Public Information Officer for the Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department (OWL VFD). You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.