WHAT IS ELDER LAW?
Before discussing the legal practice known as “elder law”, it is useful to define what is meant by the word “elder.” In the legal sense, the definition depends on the specific area of law in which the term is being used. For example, for purposes of age discrimination, you must be at least 40. To be eligible for the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, you must be at least 65. While there are minimum age requirements for certain laws and programs, they are not consistent.
Periodically, prospective clients will call and say that someone told them they need to see an elder law attorney and when asked why they were told that, they are not sure. Unlike most areas of law, elder law is not one specific area of law, such as employment, real estate or personal injury. An elder law attorney needs to know many areas of law which affect older clients. This includes, but is not limited to, paying for long-term care such as a skilled nursing facility or home care services; housing options, trust and estate planning, including the use of special needs trusts, Medicare law, conservatorships, decedent estate work, long term care insurance and reverse mortgages.
An attorney who practices elder law may also assist individuals who may not be considered an elder due to their age, but who may have some of the issues associated with aging, such as medical issues and the need for long-term care. Generally, an elder law attorney will be familiar with government programs which can provide care to individuals under the age of 65 who meet the financial and medical requirements of the program.
Elder law attorneys can be an important resource in assisting individuals to remain as independent as possible in the event of declining health.