When To Seek Help From Elder Law Attorneys

Megan Ray  |  August 12, 2014

With the right planning, transitioning to a retirement community can be a simple, positive experience. But without the proper preparations, the choice to move, as well as any number of other aging-related decisions, can come abruptly and cause stress for older people and their families. One way to keep retirement plans from becoming overwhelming or being made in haste is to enlist the aid of an elder law attorney.

Planning ahead is important 
Many people don't think that they need the services of an attorney as they age. Especially for those who age without experiencing many health drawbacks, it may seem like an unnecessary expense. However, legal issues can arise more suddenly in old age and have far-reaching consequences. Drafting a will, granting power of attorney or changing residences should not be undertaken lightly. By trying to take care of everything on their own, seniors may be putting themselves at risk of missing out on medical benefits they could be able to claim or leaving important decisions up to others.

Attorneys can lead discussions 
Families of seniors may also have trouble bringing up difficult subjects with the elders in their lives. The National Elder Law Foundation wrote that aging and end-of-life plans can be emotionally burdening to discuss, leaving many to put the topics off for too long. By hiring an elder law attorney, families can relieve some of the tension that comes along with talking to older relatives about health and money issues.

Even for families that are open about aging plans and health changes, an attorney can provide peace of mind that the right steps are being taken for loved ones. The world of law is incredibly complex to outsiders, and bad choices made about elder care can affect a relative's quality of life for a long time. Though some individuals may be able to handle aspects of estate planning and medical care preparation on their own, in truth the important decisions facing seniors are too numerous and too complicated for anyone but professionals to navigate entirely in most cases.

When attorneys are needed 
Though the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys does recommend exploring more affordable remedies, such as the services of a social worker or financial planner, if possible, there are many issues that may require the aid of a legal professional. Health care claims and management of wills and trusts are the most common reasons for people to consult lawyers. For those seeking the services of an elder law attorney, many local and national organizations, such as the Alzheimer's Association or local bar associations, can offer referrals.