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Elder Law

Elder law attorneys are legal professionals who specialize in helping seniors with issues specific to their needs. This often includes navigating the increasingly complex laws and regulations around aging populations, and requires a broad understanding of both federal and state elder law. Elder law services range from financial planning to estates to health care and beyond, and attorneys frequently specialize in a particular topic while providing overall counsel for the elderly.

Elder lawyers appreciate the diverse and sometimes confusing issues that their clients face, and draw upon their expertise and experience to help create positive outcomes.

Elder Law Services

Elder law attorneys serve as both experts and advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. They provide a wide range of legal services that ensure that seniors receive the care, advice, and protection necessary in their golden years. While elder lawyers often specialize in a particular topic, they are typically well versed in the diverse needs of older clients, and can help craft a holistic approach to each client’s individual circumstance.

Elder law services include:

Estate planning

  • Wills and trusts
  • Probate
  • Power of attorney

Financial planning

  • Retirement planning
  • Taxes
  • Social security and veterans’ benefits
  • Real estate needs

Health care decisions

  • Medicare and Medicaid coverage
  • Long term care
  • End-of-life planning
  • Insurance
  • Patient rights

Guardianship and conservatorship

Protection against elder abuse, neglect, and fraud

Click to view a glossary of elder law industry terms.

Paying for Elder Law Attorneys

Elder law attorneys charge in a variety of ways. It’s critical to ask detailed questions up front about the attorney’s fee structure, including incidentals and retainers, to guarantee that there are no surprises.

Many charge by the hour. The hourly rate generally varies depending on the person performing the work, with different rates for attorneys, paralegals, and administrative assistants. Others charge predetermined flat rates based on the type of work, such as preparing a will, filing tax returns, or reviewing documents. Some elder lawyers combine these methods, or will work with you to determine the best approach for your needs.

In addition to an hourly rate and/or flat fee, elder law attorneys frequently charge fees for incidentals. These may include copies, postage, court fees, deposition fees, and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Your elder law attorney may also ask for a retainer. A retainer is money placed in a trust account before work begins on your case. Each time your attorney bills you, he or she is paid from that account. The retainer may be a small percentage of the final cost up to the full amount.

Billing schedules vary among attorneys as well. Ask your elder lawyer if he or she bills weekly, monthly, or on completion of work, and about your options and timeline for paying the fees.

For more information and resources about finding an elder law attorney, please visit the American Bar Association.

News and Articles about Elder Law
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