Elder Law is a relatively new specialized field of law that deals with the issues faced by the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, the elderly. This area of law combines elements of Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Guardianships and Conservatorships, Health Care Planning, Medicare/Medicaid Planning, and Elder Rights.
Seniors are more active and live longer than ever before, but they have a new set of legal concerns that have rarely been addressed by earlier generations. Older people have always needed Wills and Estate Planning to pass their assets to their beneficiaries. Now that they are living longer, there are more issues about their future care that have to be included in Estate Planning, such as plans for housing, future medical care, and what to do if the person should become incapacitated. One of the most important questions that is being raised is how to provide long-term housing, with possibly increasing levels of care, as the seniors age. This, in turn, is giving rise to a whole new industry of senior living facilities and raising many legal questions about contract rights and the power of facilities to discharge residents. As continuing care becomes more and more expensive, seniors are also in need of information about long-term care insurance and government benefits.
A new level of consciousness about elder abuse is bringing that problem before the public and also giving rise to attorneys who assist in protecting seniors.