What Is An Elder Law Attorney and What Do They Do?

Senior citizens have different needs than younger adults. There are different types of concerns and questions that a person has as they become older — whether or not they are able to retire.

An elder law attorney specializes in the needs of older adults. This type of attorney has also learned how to work with the physical and emotional needs of both older adults and disabled adults. Not all attorneys have the knowledge of, and experience with, the needs of clients of this population. Caring for and working with seniors has its own set of required skills.

How Does and Elder Law Attorney Help?

What does an elder law attorney deal with, legally? Here are a few of the primary concerns:

Estate Planning

Wills and estate plans change as we become older. Crafting a Will, and keeping that Will updated, is something an elder law attorney excels at. Matters of probate are also part of this consideration. If the person has a child or grandchild with special needs, such documents are handled differently. If the person has specific medical issues — or if the beneficiaries have specific medical issues — often the documents need to be approached with those conditions in mind.

Financial Planning

You may already have a financial planner in place, which is great! Regardless, an elder law attorney can help establish a durable financial power of attorney. He or she can also help with estate plans, handling financial gifts to beneficiaries, and income tax planning. Preparing for housing costs and retirement funds is also within the realm of an elder law attorney’s strengths.

Medical Care Needs

Medicare, disability benefits, ongoing health care coverage, patient rights, and long-term care options are all topics to cover. Medical care can consume much of an older person’s savings, but preparing and planning for such costs can avoid such a predicament.

Medical Directives

Advance directives and Living Wills become more important as we age. Preparing for all types of health coverage — particularly in a situation in which a person cannot advocate for themselves — is a key part of elder law.


Selecting and appointing a legal guardian is something that should be done sooner than later, and an elder law attorney can do this effectively and efficiently.

Long-term Care Facilities

Finding the right long-term care facility is not always easy. Expertise in these matters, as well as in figuring out payment terms for long-term care, falls into the purview of elder law. Managing assisted living costs sometimes requires negotiation, as well as rounds of contracts and other legal paperwork.

Nursing Homes

Resident rights for nursing homes are a valid concern. If an older person needs to file claims against a nursing home, then he or she would be wise to consult with an elder law attorney. Setting the conditions in place for a mutually beneficial, healthy relationship with a nursing home sometimes requires legal intervention.

Durable Power of Attorney

“Durable Power of Attorney” refers to having someone named to represent you and advocate for you, in the event that you unable to advocate for yourself. If you sustain a serious injury, or have a condition that incapacitates you, you will need someone to act on your behalf. Finding the right person for this role, as well as setting the documentation in place to designate the person as durable power of attorney, requires legal expertise.