What is Elder Law?

Elder Law is a fast-growing practice area due to the steadily aging population of both Wisconsin and the nation as a whole.  However, many may not have a good understanding of what Elder Law is, or the services an Elder Law attorney can provide.

The practice of Elder Law encompasses the provision of legal services to older and disabled individuals and their families.  For older clients, this can include planning for incapacity and long-term care needs, coordinating available private and public benefits, and working with the client’s family, healthcare providers, other advisors, and fiduciaries to ensure that his or her objectives and needs are being met.

Planning for incapacity will often include implementing durable powers of attorney and advance healthcare directives, such as powers of attorney for health care, declarations to physicians (also known as a Living Will), and authorizations for final disposition. If the individual in question is already incapacitated and is unable to care for him or herself, an Elder Law attorney may assist that person’s family in petitioning the court to establish a guardianship.

An Elder Law attorney can also assist an older individual in planning for his or her long-term care needs.  This can include planning geared towards Medicaid eligibility or working with the individual’s financial advisor to ensure that he or she is able to pay privately for long-term care.

For disabled individuals, planning opportunities can include special needs trusts, which are used to provide for a disabled individual’s needs while maintaining his or her eligibility for governmental assistance and benefits.  Special needs trusts may be established by or on behalf of the disabled person and funded with his or her own assets, or by a third party for the disabled person’s benefit.

If you have any questions on this topic, please contact Attorney Emily E. Ames at eames@llattorneys.com or (920) 393-1190.