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What is Elder Law, and How Do I Choose an Attorney?

What is Elder Law, and How Do I Choose an Attorney?

June 15, 2021

Understanding Elder Law in Financial Planning

I recommend that all my financial planning clients have updated estate planning documents as part of their holistic financial plan. Often, those documents include some amount of elder law planning. The estate planning attorneys with whom I work are all experts in estate planning and other aspects of elder law.

The definition of elder law is a specialized area of legal practice, covering estate planning, wills, trusts, arrangements for care, social security and retirement benefits, protection against elder abuse (physical, emotional and financial), and other areas involving older people.

Most often elder law issues become more important as we reach our older age. Specifically, elder law deals with the follow areas:

  • Disability Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Grandchildren
  • Long-Term Care Insurance
  • Long-Term Care Planning
  • Medicaid
  • Medical Directives
  • Medicare
  • Nursing Home Issues
  • Retirement Living 

When clients need elder law expertise, it’s often because of a couple scenarios:

  • The family has a legacy asset, like a lake home or the family farm, that they want to protect for future generations. They don’t want end-of-life costs of the current owner to force the heirs to sell the asset.
  • The family is concerned that one or both partners will need significant long-term healthcare and what to manage the risk of those potential costs.
    • The family may want to assure they can get better care by having more resources available for care.
    • They may want to protect heirs from the expense of the parents’ care.

Elderly couple

How Do You Choose An Elder Law Attorney?

When you are looking for an elder law attorney, a great place to start is to ask your Certified Financial PlannerTM professional for a recommendation. Your CFP® professional is your advocate to help you reach your financial goals and she has the training and the experience to know the best attorneys in your area. The CFP® professional is your guide to a complete, integrated approach to your financial success. They will know where elder law planning fits for your family and they will have plenty of experience with the best attorneys in your area. Ask your advisor for a couple attorneys they recommend, meet with both and discuss your exact situation.

Any good attorney should meet with you for an initial consultation at no charge. This will give you a chance to get to know the attorney and how they work with clients. They will typically give you a good idea of what sort of approach would fit your situation. I am a big believer in the power of chemistry to improve your advisory experience. If you are comfortable with the attorney, I expect your results to be much better.

Generally, you want to talk with an attorney who specializes in elder law. The attorney’s specialty should be very clear in your initial contact with the law office. And I suggest you talk with an attorney with some experience to be sure they have seen their plans unfold over time. The process of setting up plans is different from the process of executing them when the time comes.

If you are trying to decide whether you really need an elder law specialist and would like some advice, give me a call. I’m happy to answer questions and discuss your situation.

Yes, I am a CFP® professional. I’m always a fiduciary and I work on a fee basis. And yes, I’m still taking on a few great families to be part of my financial planning practice.

If this article has you thinking about your own circumstances, contact my office at rdunn@dunncreekadvisors.com. I am always happy to meet with people who are working on their retirement plans. Dunncreek Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice, nor is this article intended to do so.