At some point in your lifetime, there is a very good chance that you will need the assistance and/or advice of an elder law attorney, either for your own legal issues or because you are a caregiver for an elderly individual who has legal concerns. Because elder law is a relatively new area of the law, you may not recognize when you need to turn to an elder law attorney. To ensure that you receive the legal advice and assistance you need from the right type of attorney, it is essential for you to know what elder law attorneys do so you will recognize when you need one.
The Greying of America
In recent years, the elderly (age 65 and older) population in the U.S. has increased at an unprecedented rate. In less than 40 years, between 2012 and 2050, the population of older Americans is expected to jump from about 43 million to over 83 million – an increase of almost 100 percent. As a result, the older Americans will outnumber their younger counterparts (age 21 and under) for the first time in history. The Baby Boomer generation is largely responsible for this phenomenon which has been referred to as the “Greying of America.” Not only are there simply more people in the Baby Boomer generation than in any previous generation, but the life expectancy of the average American has also almost doubled in the last 100 years, meaning they will live much longer than previous generations as well. The explosion of the elderly population has had an impact on almost every segment of American society, including the legal field. We now have a significant group of Americans who face unique legal needs, giving rise to a new area of the law known as “elder law.”
Elder Law is Recognized
The increase in the elderly population has led to an increase in the need for services catering to the elderly, including legal services. While older individuals face many of the same legal issues that younger people do, they also have some unique legal needs and concerns. With this in mind, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or NAELA, was formed in the late 1980s as a way to better serve this growing segment of the population. Five years after the creation of NAELA, the National Elder Law Foundation was formed. The purpose of the non-profit NELF was to help improve the professional skills of attorneys who choose to focus on elder law. Toward that end, NELF then developed a national certification program for attorneys known as the Certified Elder Law Attorney, or CELA, certification program. The first CELA examination was given in 1994 with the American Bar Association endorsing the certification program the following year.
What Kind of Legal Matters Do Elder Law Lawyers Handle?
Attorneys who have chosen to focus their practice on elder law issues are a unique breed among lawyers. Unlike other attorneys who choose to specialize – for example, a criminal law attorney – elder law attorneys do not limit their focus to one specific area of the law (such as criminal law). Instead, an elder law attorney must be well versed in a wide range of areas of the law and how those laws affect the elderly. For instance, an elder law attorney might handle:
- Denial of disability
- Estate planning
- Health insurance issues
- Retirement planning
- Nursing home abuse
- Medicaid planning
- Veteran’s benefits
Each of these issues relates to a different area of the law; however, they may all impact the elderly and those who care for them. Think of elder law in broad terms instead of narrow terms. Essentially, any legal issues that impact the elderly, or those who care for the elderly, would fall within the purview of an elder law attorney. An elder law attorney has made the choice to understand how issues that impact the elderly affect them and their loved ones and how to with those issues from a legal perspective.
Contact Arizona Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about what types of legal matters elder law attorneys handle, or if you think you may need to consult with an elder law attorney, contact the experienced Arizona elder law attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.