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According to the U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov), there are an estimated 78 million Americans who are generationally classified as “Baby Boomers.” Every day in 2006, according to the Bureau, 7918 of these Baby Boomers turned 60 years old.
This means that in 2008, members of the Baby Boomer generation began to turn 62 and became eligible for some federal retirement benefits. As more and more Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) age, the importance of Elder Law obviously increases; all these individuals and their families will face the issues of retirement, becoming physically or mentally incapacitated and the inevitably of death.
Elder Law focuses upon serving the needs of older people. Elder Law encompasses estate planning, Social Security and retirement benefits, wills, trusts, long-term health care needs, and elder abuse and neglect issues.
Elder Law attorneys commonly work with social workers, guardians, geriatric care managers, and health care providers in assisting their clients. Together, they serve the needs of the senior citizen in dealing with issues of aging.
Attorneys practicing in the area of Elder Law work with their clients to address and plan for age-related life issues such as mental or physical disability of a temporary or permanent nature as well as the planning ahead, both financially and otherwise, for the certainty of death.
The elderly face an amazing variety of legal issues from age discrimination in the work place to financial issues involving Medicare and Medicaid. They also face issues involving maximizing disability and retirement benefits and long-term assigning of their health care decision-making.
Elder Law attorneys will commonly draft instruments such as Durable General Powers of Attorney or Durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care in order to avoid the need later in life for a loved one to petition a court for guardianship or conservatorship. A growing area of Elder Law involves long-term nursing care planning including the purchase of long-term care insurance policies and the creation of the appropriate trusts to provide for admittance and residence at a skilled nursing facility. There are a number of traps for the unwary when applying for long-term nursing care benefits from the government. It is important that you consult with an attorney knowledgeable in the Elder Law area to help navigate the application and approval process.
The elderly often become targets for abuse. Every state has its own form of elder abuse prevention laws, and there may be both civil and criminal penalties provided in them. For example, in every state, physical abuse and financial exploitation of the elderly are considered felonies punishable by both jail time and monetary fine.
Let the attorneys at Capshaw Green assist with your estate and long-term care planning needs.
For other sources of information on topics of interest to the elderly, see the following:
(Nationally recognized non-profit organization addressing the needs of Americans aged 50 and over, with over 38 million members.)
Administration on Aging Eldercare Locator (www.eldercare.gov) (AOA’s public-service site, providing online and live telephone sources of Elder information at the federal, state, and local level).
National Center on Elder Abuse (www.elderabusecenter.com) (NCEA provides resources on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, as well as assistance on reporting them.)
National Senior Citizens Law Center (www.NSCLC.org) (NSCLC assists lawyers, elderly advocates, and private citizens by providing consumer guides and newsletters as well as advocating for senior citizens in various courts and agencies at both the federal and state level.)
American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging (www.abanet.org/aging) (This commission is comprised of a 15-member body of experts, including lawyers and non-lawyers; it provides assistance, education, advocacy, and training in a great variety of legal issues pertaining to the elderly, specifically those involving legal services to older persons, dispute resolution, and court-related needs of older persons with disabilities.)