Attorneys tend to specialize in particular areas of the law that they feel passionate about. As the name would suggest, elder law attorneys work with people who are concerned about the challenges that they may face when they become senior citizens.
This is a quickly growing area of the law. During our current era, there is a demographic anomaly underway that is unprecedented in American history.
After World War II, a great many service people returned home, and there were a lot of babies born. Babies who were born between 1946 and 1964 have been dubbed “baby boomers.”
If you do the math, you can see that these people are starting to become senior citizens, and this is why the aging of the population is so profound at the present time. Since there are so many people reaching retirement age, the role of the elder law attorney is becoming quite essential.
Preparing for Retirement
There was a time when people automatically assumed that they would be able to retire when they were old enough to collect Social Security. The common scenario would be that a senior citizen’s home and car were paid for, and there was a nest egg in place. Many seniors had pensions to supplement their Social Security checks, so there was a comfortable retirement lying in wait.
These days, things are considerably different for many Americans. The financial crisis that we went through in 2007 and 2008 took a heavy toll on a lot of people, and pensions are the exception rather than the rule. Plus, Social Security payouts are quite modest. In 2016, the average Social Security benefit for a single recipient is just $1,341.
Without question, if you want to be able to retire in comfort, you have to plan ahead in advance. Many elder law attorneys provide retirement planning and financial assistance for people who are looking ahead toward the future.
Elder law attorneys are going to place a particular focus on the twilight years. There are different eventualities that can come about when you reach the end of your life. Families should prepare for these eventualities in advance.
While it is not the most pleasant thing to contemplate, many elders become incapacitated mentally at some point in time. The lifespan for someone who is reaching the age of Social Security eligibility is at least 85, and when you get into your mid-eighties, Alzheimer’s disease is a very real possibility.
This disease strikes close to half of people who are 85 years of age and older, and it is not the only underlying cause of incapacity. Given this reality, it is wise to prepare for this possibility in advance. Many times, nursing home care will be required, and Medicare does not pay for it.
Elder financial abuse is another issue that elder law attorneys help clients address. When you think about financial abuse, scam artists, identity thieves and con men may come to mind. Of course, some elders do fall victim to these predators, but this is not the biggest part of the problem.
People who are close to the victims are often the perpetrators. They could be family members who are providing assistance in some ways, friends, neighbors, and even professional in-home caregivers.
The losses are hard to estimate accurately, because many cases go unreported because the victims are protecting the perpetrators. In fact, the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that only one in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are actually reported.
Back in 2011, MetLife placed an estimate on annual losses at $2.9 billion, and that’s a lot of money to be sure. However, a 2015 True Link Financial study placed annual losses at an incredible $36.5 billion.
Elder law attorneys help people who are concerned about elder financial abuse. There are preventative steps that can be taken, and there are also actions that can be initiated if family members suspect that a loved one is falling victim to elder financial abuse.
Attend a Free Seminar
These are some of the issues that elder law attorneys advise clients about, but there are others. Plus, most elder law attorneys also provide estate planning services. The majority of seniors want to be able to leave behind suitable legacies, and resources can be absorbed by some of the perils that seniors face, so elder law and estate planning are intimately intertwined.
If you would like to obtain more detailed information about these matters, attend one of our upcoming seminars. We will be holding a number of seminars over the coming months, and they are free to attend. To obtain details and registration information, visit our seminar schedule page.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.