Long term care planning is only one area covered by attorneys who practice “elder law.” What is meant by that term? Most Pennsylvania residents are familiar with some of the most common areas of law: personal injury, medical malpractice, divorce and criminal law, for example. But, for those thinking about estate planning, long term care planning and how they will be able to accomplish their financial goals as they get older, the area of “elder law” may be something with which to become more familiar.

What is “elder law” and how can it help our readers? Well, there are a number of legal and practical issues faced by people as they grow older or that family members may face for aging relatives. These issues are grouped together and addressed by attorneys who practice “elder law.”

Elder law encompasses several areas of law, including estate planning, with the preparation of Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills, through estate administration and probate after individuals pass away. Guardianships, will contests and other Orphans’ Court matters are part of elder law. Questions may often be raised with regard to Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid as well as Veterans’ Benefits when meeting with elder law attorneys. Families with disabled or special needs relatives may also benefit from the services of elder law attorneys when it comes to preparing special needs trusts to protect their relatives’ government benefits.

Probably the most unique part of elder law involves long term care planning for those who need nursing home care, as many Americans wait until they are older to begin thinking about asset protection and their future medical needs. Elder law is a growing practice area that will become more important – and more familiar to our readers – as Pennsylvania’s residents age.