What Is an Elder Law Attorney?

Elder law attorneys are lawyers who specialize in helping seniors with a variety of legal issues. The specialty of "elder law" evolved in the 1980s as it became increasingly clear that the complicated legal issues confronting seniors -- in particular qualifying for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care -- were beyond the expertise of general-practice attorneys.

Elder law or elder care attorneys typically help families:

  • plan for Medicaid coverage of long-term care, and apply for coverage when the time comes;
  • plan and administer an estate;
  • represent guardians and conservators; and
  • create and administer trusts.

Unlike many other areas of the law, elder law is defined by the needs of the client rather than by a particular field of law. Because of this, elder law attorneys are also aware that their clients' needs often extend beyond basic legal services. For this reason, these attorneys are linked to a network of professionals in their community who serve the senior population.

But anyone can call themselves an "elder law" attorney, and today in the U.S. some 10,000 lawyers claim to practice "elder" or "elder care law." How do you know who is truly qualified? One way is to consult ElderLawAnswers' directory of member attorneys. To find an elder law attorney near you, click here