With the increasing number of Baby Boomers now reaching retirement and their senior years, a new legal specialist is emerging to help them deal with a multitude of issues they and their families might never have thought about before.
We are living much longer now and, along with age, comes the likelihood of illness and disability. Therefore, providing legal services to seniors often includes those who are involved in their lives, i.e. their families, co-workers, employers, friends and business associates.
The issues faced by seniors are often dealt with separately by lawyers who practice in specific legal areas: wills and estates, health law, Public Guardian and Trustee matters, contractual issues including financial agreements and arrangements, employment law issues, and the like.
In an Elder Law practice, however, the lawyer will be sensitive to many personal care and financial issues which can be addressed in a holistic way so that a person making a decision in one area which might have an impact on that person’s decision in another area, will end up with decisions that are consistent and work together.
For example, a mother may give a Power of Attorney to one child, make another child her representative under a Representation Agreement and may have also left different instructions with her investment or financial advisor.
If she becomes incapacitated or not competent to make certain decisions for herself, the resulting confusion as to who gets to decide could potentially delay mother getting the care she needs and the access to financial resources in order to fund her care.
A lawyer who practices Elder Law will often have access to various ‘non-legal’ resources to assist with the variety of situations a senior might encounter. These could include financial advisors, tax accountants, counselors, life coaches and even medical advisors (in particular, gerontologists or doctors specializing in medical issues usually associated with age and aging).
Having a ‘one stop shop’ will usually be a boon for those who are tasked with the responsibilities of an aging parent: the ‘sandwich generation’. These ‘middle agers’ usually still have children at home when their parents reach an age where they also start to need help.
Falling between the needs and demands of the young and the old, this group is often still building their own careers or dealing with mid-life job changes. It is not an easy time and anything that will make their lives easier will no doubt be welcome.
Elder Law can extend beyond the death of the elderly person. Children often require assistance to probate a Will and deal with the estate, the tax man, and the beneficiaries, including disappointed beneficiaries.
Here is a brief list of some of the items that can be covered by Elder Law:
- Wrongful dismissal resulting from age discrimination
- Marriage agreements for late or second (or more) marriages
- Divorce and separation issues including spousal support, pension division, division of assets
- Advice on financial, mortgage or other security agreements
- Powers of Attorney, Wills, Representation Agreements
- Physical, emotional, psychological and financial abuse of the elderly person
- Court application for the appointment of a committee for the elderly person
- Court application for a Grant of Probate of the Will or for the appointment of an administrator of the estate if the deceased died intestate
- Assistance in dealing with the Public Guardian & Trustee’s office as well as Banks, insurance companies, investment brokers and trust companies
- Assistance in dealing with medical personnel, specialists, hospitals and care facilities
To round out our desire to be able to offer a “full service option” to clients of our Elder Law practice, we continue to develop strategic alliances with people we know and trust to provide quality assistance to our clients in the areas of tax, financial planning and advice, and personal care.
If you are interested in more information about Elder Law, please contact us.