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May is National Elder Law Month
Thursday, May 5, 2016

In 1963, President Kennedy declared May to be Senior Citizens Month to honor those who are 65 and older. Since then every President has proclaimed May to be a month to show support for older Americans.  President Jimmy Carter changed the name in 1980 to Older Americans Month and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys supports this annual proclamation by declaring the month of May to be National Elder Law Month.

But what is encompassed in elder law?  And how can an elder law attorney assist older Americans?  Here is a brief list of some of the major issues that an elder law attorney advises upon:

  • Incapacity planning that would include a discussion regarding financial and medical powers of attorney

  • Tax planning

  • Estate planning, including a discussion surrounding the management of assets during incapacity and upon death

  • Medicaid

  • Medicare

  • Long-term care, including continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and assisted living facilities (ALFs)

  • Social Security (SSDI and SSI)

  • Special Needs planning (e.g., special/supplemental needs trusts)

  • Conservatorship and guardianship

  • Asset protection

  • Elder abuse and exploitation

  • Retirement planning, including beneficiary designations, death benefits and spousal benefits

  • Mental health law

  • Estate and Trust Administration

Keep in mind that some elder law attorneys are like your internist, that is, they can spot the issues and advise in broad terms.  Other elder law attorneys are specialists.  For example, certain elder law attorneys may handle only social security disability claims and appeals while others only litigate nursing home abuse cases.   Whatever the issue, it is important to make sure the relationship with an elder law attorney is a good fit for your circumstances and helps achieve your goals.  In the meantime, this month and beyond be sure to celebrate older Americans! 

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