Despite its name, Elder Law is a very new body of law, having only developed over the last thirty years or so. Elder Law has evolved in response to more people reaching the age of 65 and with those people living much longer than before. Since it is such a new field of law, Elder Law is constantly changing.
So what then, is Elder Law, exactly? Loosely defined, it is the substantive body of law dealing with issues of concern to today’s seniors. Such issues may involve probate matters, Estate Taxes, Medicare/Medicaid matters, protection of primary residence and other assets, Social Security concerns and other related health and financial issues.
In response to the birth and growth of Elder Law, a national Bar association, called NAELA (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys) was formed. In seeking a lawyer to address your concerns in this area, a question you should ask is if that particular attorney is a member of NAELA. While membership in NAELA is not a guarantee that an attorney is an expert in Elder Law, it does at least indicate that he or she has some experience with it and may indeed be an expert. In addition, you should also ask what percentage of the attorney’s practice is devoted to Elder Law and Estate Planning. While a general practitioner (one who does all kinds of law) may be able to address your concerns, somebody who only does this type of law will probably be more familiar with the type of concerns that you want addressed.
Roger Levine is a Massachusetts Elder Law, Estate Planning, & Probate Attorney with offices in Canton & Brockton.