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There is a lot going on in May. In addition to honoring all the mothers out there, we also celebrate Older Americans Month and National Elder Law Month. As we grow older and wiser (we hope!), it is important to remain engaged. Today’s seniors are more active than ever, spending time working, volunteering, traveling, or mentoring younger people. Many also talk to estate planning and elder law attorneys to plan for their future or regarding issues related to the care of their loved ones.

What is Elder Law?

Elder law encompasses a wide range of legal topics, including healthcare directives, healthcare and financial powers of attorney, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, guardianships, special needs planning, and similar matters. Elder law attorneys may also help coordinate public or private resources to assist the client and handle estate planning or probate matters.

What is the Difference Between Elder Law and Estate Planning?

Estate planning is often referred to as “wills and trusts” and involves determining how an individual would like his or her estate distributed upon their death. It also covers advance directives, powers of attorney, special needs trusts, digital asset review, and asset protection planning. There is some overlap between estate planning and elder law, though not all estate planning attorneys necessarily handle every aspect of elder law.

When Do I Need an Elder Law Attorney?

Many of our clients are adult children whose aging parents require legal assistance related to elder law issues. You may wish to speak to an elder law attorney if you, a spouse, or a parent is expected to need long-term care, is no longer competent to handle their own finances or medical care (i.e., may have been diagnosed with a memory disorder), or if you believe they will outlive their funds and require assistance through the Medicaid program. There are other possibilities, but these are some of the most common reasons clients come to us.

How Do I Choose an Elder Law Attorney?

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) offers a list of their members that is searchable by location. You might also ask your general practice attorney, older friends, or colleagues if they have a recommendation. You can make an appointment with an elder law attorney at Brinkley Walser Stoner today by calling 336.249.2101 or emailing us.