What is Elder Law?

Published online: Oct 16, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Business
Viewed 24561 time(s)

Most people think estate planning means having a will that instructs what is to happen to your assets upon your passing. A proper estate plan should also address more than that. It should address what you would like to have happen should you become incapacitated; or at least who you would like making decisions for you if you cannot due to dementia, a stroke or other similar circumstances. 

You may have also heard references to “elder law.” I am sometimes asked if elder law is something different than creating an estate plan. The short answer is yes; there is a difference between estate planning and elder law. However, they are certainly related because seniors are often interested in having their estate planning done.

In Idaho, there is no “certification” that makes one an “elder law attorney.” In fact, I dare say that the definition of elder law might vary somewhat depending who is asked. However, as its name suggests, the purpose of elder law is to help seniors with issues they commonly face. 

Every senior should have their estate planning done, including a will and/or trust, a general power of attorney, a health care power of attorney and a living will.  But seniors often must deal with additional issues. Some common examples are the following: 

1. Long term care needs, including applications to Medicaid 

2. Elder abuse and fraud 

3. Guardianships/conservatorships

4. Administration of estate (i.e., probate) and trusts

5. Social Security and/or Medicare qualification and planning.

Fortunately, not every senior (or that senior’s family) will need to address long term care needs. However, if the need arises, it can be intimidating and overwhelming to address. Similarly, not every senior will be the target of abuse or fraud, but it may not be surprising to learn that seniors are the primary target of scammers. Finally, if loved ones have lost the mental capacity to properly function, a guardianship or conservatorship may be an appropriate way to protect that person.  

If you or your family may need to address one of more of these “elder law” issues, an attorney experienced in such matters can help you find answers. 

Steve Wright is a local attorney who provides free, no obligation estate planning and elder law presentations. Sign up by calling (208) 523-4433 or sending an e-mail to marianne@wrightlawidaho.com. 

© 2021 Steven J Wright

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