Elder law is a field of law dealing with the unique legal issues that affect older adults. The broad definition of elder law is the specialized field of law that addresses the diverse legal needs of aging populations. It focuses on the legal issues affecting baby boomers and their elderly parents. Lawyers who are versed in these issues are often referred to as elder law attorneys.
Legal issues affecting seniors are governed by complex regulations and laws that vary by state. They’re also multifaceted, often requiring a unique understanding of the personal impacts of aging, which can make a person more physically, financially, and socially vulnerable. Elder law addresses the various life decisions and circumstances that arise during this time of life as well as how estate plans will be executed after your death. Elder law attorneys who focus their legal practice on these issues take a holistic approach when working with seniors and their family members, helping them navigate legal matters in conjunction with a network of professionals including health and social workers and psychologists.
Below are some common questions involved with elder law:
- Have you updated your Will in the last 5 years?
- Have you protected assets in case you need home care or nursing home care?
- Do you have a Living Will, Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney?
- Have you taken steps to protect your home?
- Are you willing to spend one-half or even all of your assets on the cost of your care?
With the percentage of older Americans expected to outnumber their younger counterparts by the year 2050 it should be no surprise that services geared toward the elderly are becoming more frequent in the United States. The law has also taken note of the increasing elderly population by creating a specialty area, known as “elder law” that is aimed at addressing the unique legal issues faced by older individuals and those who care for them.
Long-term care is one of those issues for most elderly individuals. The average American can expect to live almost twice as long as his or her counterpart lived a century ago. A longer life expectancy, however, dramatically increases the likelihood that you will spend time in a long-term care facility at some point in your life. With an average cost of over $75,000 per year to stay in a long-term care facility can easily wipe out a lifetime’s worth of careful saving and prudent investing.
Will You Need Long-Term Care?
Though people prefer not to think about it, the odds are favorable that you will end up in a long-term care facility at some point. You have a one in five chance of needing long-term care prior to retirement age. For those who live to age 65, two in five will go on to need long-term care and by age 80 the likelihood of needing long-term care drops to three in four. The average stay in a long-term care facility is 2.5 years – a stay that is typically not covered by private health insurance or by the Medicare program. Proper planning is necessary in order to properly situate yourself, or a loved one.
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