Elder Law Attorneys are lawyers with experience in the legal issues that affect us as we age or become disabled. Wills, trusts, probate, guardianships and estate planning are traditionally thought of as issues relating to age, disability and death. Elder law attorneys are also familiar with incapacity planning, health care cost planning, as well as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and nursing home rights.
Elder law clients are predominantly seniors, and the specialization requires a practitioner to be particularly sensitive to the legal issues impacting these clients. However, the practice is not necessarily age related. Disability and incapacity planning are important aspects of many elder law attorneys’ practices, e.g., testamentary and intervivos supplemental needs trusts where preservation of public benefits are at issue and other trusts available to provide for those who cannot or should not manage finances and personal issues.
Not all Elder Law attorneys also specialize in Special Needs Law (but we are all called on to deal with the entire life spectrum.) From people with disabilities to those facing the end of life and members of their families, Elder and Special Needs Law attorneys promote planning now for the future which will impact every member of a family.
In addition, it is important for elder law attorneys to have some knowledge of the so called “elder network.” For example, a good elder law attorney should be able to guide you to public and private agencies that may be able to assist you.
Selecting an Elder Law Attorney
In selecting an elder law attorney, it is important to discuss who will be working on your legal matter and their qualifications in that area of law. It is also important to consider cost. Simply because you are elderly does not mean that you need an elder law attorney to handle a simple real estate closing. If an Elder law attorney has the experience in real estate law and a competitive cost – that’s great. If not, a real estate attorney may be a better choice. When it comes to things like Medicaid planning, Elder law attorneys may be a little more expensive, but their knowledge is likely to be worth the cost.
"In October 2009, my fiancé (and future wife) and I wanted to have estate documents prepared. Upon the recommendation of friends, we contacted an elder law firm in Sarasota, FL. We were assigned to Teresa K. Bowman, an estate planning and elder law attorney. Over the course of several months, she helped us to develop and refine our documents to our exact specifications and requirements, with our complete satisfaction. During the next few years, various modifications to our documents were required, and she helped us to implement these changes, always with absolute professionalism and precision, and with a warm, friendly manner. Incidentally, Teresa Bowman, serving in the role of Justice of the Peace, presided over our wedding ceremony in May, 2010. It was the first wedding ceremony she had ever performed, so we trust that it is just as memorable an event for her as it was for us. In 2014, when Teresa Bowman established her own Estate Planning and Elder Law practice, we, of course, transferred our accounts to her new firm. She has since implemented additional modifications to our estate documents, with the same high level of service that we have come to expect and appreciate. We would have absolutely no reservations in recommending Teresa Bowman and her firm to anyone who has need of the services she renders." - Robert G. and Judith L. Hores