The term “elder law” is becoming a common buzz word in the legal community. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) states that elder law includes helping individuals with planning for incapacity and long-term care, health and long-term care insurance, and health care decision-making. It can include drafting trusts, selecting long-term care providers, home care and nursing home problem solving, retirement housing, and fiduciary services. We will all face elder law issues at some point in our lives (for both our loved ones and ourselves).
Planning to age well can be a difficult, complex and confusing process. Our firm has adopted certain ELDER standards that we follow when we practice elder law so that the client receives the maximum benefit from the representation. We believe that the practice of elder law should be:
1. Educational: It is important for clients to understand the pros and cons of all aspects of the planning process. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Often it leads to poor planning decisions that are based more on fear than facts. We take the time to educate our clients on the how and why of the planning process, as well as why a particular approach may or may not be right for them.
2. Lifelong: We believe that any plan must be long-lasting and able to address any possible changes in circumstance. We want to have an ongoing relationship with our clients so that we can help them navigate the different situations that might arise in the future and adjust their plan accordingly.
3. Detailed: Long-term care planning is incredibly detail oriented. Small details such as the amount of an individual’s assets and the dates of any transfers matter – applying for benefits one day early can result in a denial. We take the time to ensure we have all of the relevant facts to allow us to effectively represent our clients.
4. Efficient: We believe in doing only that which is needed to accomplish our clients’ objectives and nothing more. Further, because long-term care planning can be time sensitive, it is important to have systems and protocols in place to maximize efficiency.
5. Respectful: Elder law attorneys should always protect the dignity of their clients. Often other family members tell our clients what they should do. We make recommendations that respect our clients’ wishes and allow them to make their own decisions for as long as possible.
As we always say, elder law and planning to age well always begin with good estate planning. If you have any questions about estate planning or elder law, send us an email
or give us a call at (205) 802-0696.