Disclaimer: With Medicaid, VA, and insurance regulations frequently changing, past blog posts may not be presently accurate or relevant. Please contact our office for information on current planning strategies, tips, and how-to's.
Adding elder law to your practice doesn’t have to be hard or confusing. If you already practice in the areas of estate planning and/or family law, elder law is an easy extension. Elder law primarily focuses on the needs of elderly clients and is sometimes wrongly associated as a practice area that only helps seniors apply for Medicaid. But elder law is indeed so much more. Additional facets of practicing elder law include elder abuse, guardianships, conservatorships, VA planning, disability planning as well as a few others. By incorporating elder law into your practice, you can assist clients throughout their entire lifetime.
Choosing to Add Elder Law to Your Practice
Adding a new specialty to your practice can seem daunting, but it’s important to know that there are plenty of resources and tools available to assist you! Transitioning your practice to include elder law doesn’t have to be scary and you certainly won’t have any trouble finding clients who require your services. Before you get started, you’ll want to ask yourself two questions:
- Do I enjoy helping families navigate tough times of uncertainty?
- Do I believe that all individuals should be able to afford their care without diminishing their entire life’s savings to do so?
If you answered ‘yes’ to both questions, then elder law is the practice area for you. By expanding elder law as part of your practice area you are not only increasing the value of your marketable skills by being able to assist in additional areas of their life, but you are also increasing the value of your firm! As the population continues to age, the need for elder law attorneys grows stronger and is a practice area that will always be needed.
Why Adding Elder Law to Your Practice Matters
Seniors turning 65 today have almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care in their lifetime. However, by 2029, over half of seniors will not have enough financial resources to pay for long-term care. That’s why the need for elder law attorneys is so dire. Many seniors who are entering the later years of their retirement are often met with an abundance of information about what they should do or purchase, but they lack the proper guidance and knowledge to make an informed decision.
The guidance provided by an elder law attorney for these clients can make all the difference in whether the client can afford to pay for their long-term care and still protect a portion of their assets for their spouse and loved ones. Due to the lack of experienced elder law attorneys, many families are often forced to make tough financial decisions about their loved one’s care. You can help ease that burden by providing alternative asset preservation strategies and preparing your client for a long-term care stay through pre-planning.
If you live in a community with a nursing home or assisted living facility, you likely have clients in your area that need your services. A simple first step to begin incorporating elder law services into your practice would be to contact your retirement-age or elderly clients to find out if they have any additional legal needs or services that are currently not being provided by your firm. This will help you determine exactly which specialty of elder law you should focus on.
Next, you’ll want to begin learning more about this practice area! We recommend exploring various CLE options either in-person or online as well as connecting with other elder law attorneys in your state through your local or state bar association. Additionally, joining nationwide organizations such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) or becoming a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) through the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) can help boost your credentials and expand your network by providing additional opportunities for you to connect and learn from your peers. Lastly, working with organizations such as ElderCounsel that are focused on servicing the educational and marketing needs of elder law attorneys can also provide great assistance when taking on your first case.
Ready to learn more? Click here to enroll in our on-demand training course where you can learn the foundations of Medicaid planning AND earn CLE credit!
For questions about adding elder law or long-term care planning to your practice, contact our office at 866-605-7437 or head over to our website and create your online Attorney Access account today. It’s easy to do and will grant you instant access to your personalized dashboard, state-specific resources, national message board and more!