Lawyer Monthly - October 2022

To begin with, what is defined as ‘elder law’ and what areas does it cover? Elder law can be defined as broadly or narrowly as one would like. In the broadest sense, elder law is any area of the law that pertains to the older population and their families and to people with disabilities, regardless of age. This may include anything from personal injury cases specific to the elderly, such as falls and other injuries in assisted living settings and nursing homes, all the way to basic estate planning, which includes drafting wills, trusts, powers of attorneys, living wills, and so forth. Many elder law practitioners narrow the definition – and their practice – to simply helping people who are interested in protecting assets in case they need long-term care in the future, or to helping those in crisis situations who need immediate care and need to qualify for Medicaid as soon as possible, while trying to preserve as many assets as they can. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys defined elder law well when it set forth that elder law is defined by the clients that the lawyer is serving. I am paraphrasing their definition, but that puts it succinctly. The needs of our older or disabled clients basically make the elder law practitioner a broad-based general practitioner, unless one defines and narrows one’s intake to certain types of cases. For lawyers looking to practice elder law, what should they be most mindful of when setting out? Lawyers considering elder law or just getting into elder law should be mindful Getting Started in Elder Law EXPERT INSIGHT 63 As demographics continue to age in the United States and internationally, there is an ever-growing need for elder lawyers. For the many less experienced legal practitioners interested in specialising in this expanding area of law, there are many hurdles to be overcome, but strong incentives for those who commit. Experienced elder lawyer Chip Nation outlines the current landscape of elder law in this feature, sharing advice gained from his own active practice. Expert Insight The needs of our older or disabled clients basically make the elder law practitioner a broadbased general practitioner.

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