Page Reviewed / Updated – July 26, 2022

Elder law is a branch of the law field focusing on seniors and the specific legal issues they face as they age. Finances and health care can become particularly complicated as people get older. elder law attorneys help the elderly and their families or caregivers make decisions, create documents and plan for health care, finances and end-of-life decisions. They personalize the plans based on the client’s current situation as well as potential needs in the future.

Areas Covered by Elder Law

While some lawyers focus on a specific situation, such as divorce or DUI defense, elder law attorneys help clients with a variety of aging-related topics. They focus on a particular type of person rather than a situation. Some main areas elder law covers include:

Elder Law Helps With Aging Decisions

An elder law attorney can help advise elderly clients and their families on legal issues related to aging. Unlike an estate attorney who typically handles the estate after someone passes away, an elder law attorney focuses on helping the client while they’re alive to ensure they make decisions in their best interests. 

They can help clients make decisions about a variety of aging topics, such as the best long-term care options and how to pay for them. The legal advice considers the client’s current situation, including their finances and health, to make a plan for the future. The attorney serves as an advocate to help protect the client’s finances and ensure someone carries out their wishes as they age. 

Elder law specialists have a deep understanding of state and federal laws relating to seniors. They’re well-versed in the programs available and financial support for seniors. These specialists also understand potential problems seniors face, such as financial fraud and protecting the spouse’s financial situation when a client needs to go to a nursing home. This knowledge helps them anticipate issues clients could face and present them with options that avoid those problems.

Elder Law Attorneys Create Legal Documents

An elder law attorney can help a client or their caregiver create legal documents that protect their interests. They can help develop wills, trusts and power of attorney. Attorneys can also help clients understand and apply for benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid and veteran benefits.