Elder Law Attorney 

What is an Elder Law Attorney?

Navigating the sea of complex legal issues is difficult for any age.  And let’s face it, the older we get, the rougher those seas get!  Elder Law Attorneys are highly-specialized legal representatives experienced in handling a wide range of issues specifically affecting the senior community, people with disabilities, and their families.

Elder law covers all aspects of planning, counseling, education, and advocating for clients.  Attorneys who work in this field bring more to their practice than an expertise in the appropriate area of law. They also have knowledge of the senior population and their unique needs related to competence and aging. They are aware of the physical and mental difficulties that often accompany the aging process. Because of their broad knowledge base they are able to more thoroughly address the legal needs and estate planning of their clients.

For example, when creating an estate plan, experienced elder law attorneys will take many things into consideration including the health of the person and the potential for nursing home care.  Making sure that the goals and wishes of the person or couple is taken into account is of paramount importance.

What kind of specific issues do they handle?

Some of the issues may include:

  • Health Care Planning which may include power of attorney and living wills
  • Financial Representation that can help protect your income and estate including financial planning and gift tax matters
  • Veteran’s benefits
  • Establishing guardianship should you lose the capacity to make rational decisions
  • Resident’s rights in care facilities
  • Nursing home claims
  • Employment and retirement issues such as Trust and Will planning

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How do I know if a lawyer is qualified as an “Elder Law Specialist”?

The Florida Bar can certify some elder law attorneys as “Elder Law Specialists.”  They must have practiced law for at least five years, be a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, and must demonstrate that 40 percent or more of their practice is focused in elder law for at least three years preceding the application for this special certification.  Additionally, in order to be certified as a specialist, the attorney is required to pass a written exam and peer review.

There is also a second organization called the National Elder Law Foundation which provides a similar board certification for elder law attorneys.  Attorneys that have this type of certification can be identified by the letters CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney) after their name.

How should I prepare for a meeting with the attorney?

Preparation is key!  Remember, you are not only shopping for a service, you are shopping for somebody you must be comfortable with.  They will be handling some of the most important details of your life.

Start by making a list of questions that you will want the lawyer to answer.  Some questions may include:

  • How long as the attorney been practicing elder law?
  • What percentage of his business is dedicated to elder law?
  • Are they a Florida Bar Board Certified Elder Law Attorney or a CELA?
  • How much training have they had in the field of elder law, and through what organizations?
  • Do they specialize in any particular aspect of elder law?
  • What specific matters are you concerned with and how much experience does the attorney have with that matter?
  • What are your time limitations and can the lawyer work within that timeframe?

It may be necessary for the attorney to have additional information when answering questions about specific matters.  It’s important for you to bring critical documents and information that may be helpful in getting the answers you need.

Horizon Care Services can help you narrow your search for a qualified Elder Law Attorney.  Ask our staff for recommendations!

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