What Is an Elder Law Attorney?

An elder law attorney advocates for older adults' rights and needs, including estate planning, long-term care and Medicare qualifications. There are many factors to consider when looking into hiring an elder law attorney. Things like finding the best law firm for elder law cases and preparing questions before meeting can influence how well your case is handled.

Lindsey Crossmier, writer for RetireGuide
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APA Crossmier, L. (2022, July 26). What Is an Elder Law Attorney? RetireGuide.com. Retrieved August 14, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/elder-law-attorney/

MLA Crossmier, Lindsey. "What Is an Elder Law Attorney?" RetireGuide.com, 26 Jul 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/elder-law-attorney/.

Chicago Crossmier, Lindsey. "What Is an Elder Law Attorney?" RetireGuide.com. Last modified July 26, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/elder-law/elder-law-attorney/.

Why Should You Hire an Elder Law Attorney?

Hiring an elder law attorney provides older adults with a trustworthy advocate to protect their rights, finances and health. Elder laws vary by state, so having an expert clarify your state’s legal requirements and statutes can help give you the best outcome in your case. If you try to handle complex legal matters on your own, or use free online tools to do so, you may overlook certain aspects and face severe repercussions that may cost thousands to fix.

An elder law attorney, on the other hand, can offer proper guidance since they cover a wide range of legal aid, from estate planning to social security and more. There are specific circumstances where you can benefit immensely by hiring an elder law attorney.

When to Consider an Elder Law Attorney
  • You think you have dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid
  • You’re experiencing elder abuse
  • You’re disabled
  • You’ve developed a chronic condition
  • You need help with one or more estates

Because it is likely for older adults to experience impairments and require additional care with age, hiring an elder law attorney later in life can help one plan for retirement, square away any uncertainties and avoid abusive situations.

Types of Cases Elder Law Attorneys Handle

Elder law attorneys handle a wide range of cases. They are specifically trained to aid senior citizens with current and end-of-life responsibilities. Elder law attorneys can help ensure your legacies are handled respectfully, your rights are protected and your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Elder Law Case Examples
Estate Planning
Estate planning is complex, regardless of if you have multiple large-scale properties or a single home. There are many moving parts with an estate plan, including your will, guardianship decisions, creating trusts and more. One big factor is determining what to do with your home after you're gone. Having an attorney to ensure everything is in order will prevent legal issues.
Social Security
It isn’t always easy to determine Social Security payments. Factors like your health and age can make your payment amount fluctuate. If you suspect you’re not getting the right amount, then an elder law attorney can help ensure this issue is resolved.
Anyone who has ever dealt with Medicare knows it can be complicated. Different parts cover different treatments, services and medications, and there are almost always requirements and exclusions. At times, you may have issues with Medicare refusing to pay for your health care. You can file a claim, and an elder law attorney can help fight for your case.
Some can qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. However, this application process can be lengthy and complex. If you accidentally fill out information incorrectly, you could be denied coverage. An elder law attorney can help you apply for Medicaid and avoid the stress.
Long-Term Care
Long-term care can be costly. There are many factors that influence the price and quality of care from a long-term care insurance policy. An elder law attorney can help you navigate the best financial decisions to get long-term care services covered.
Employment Discrimination
If you feel you’ve experienced discrimination by your place of employment, know that there are protections in place. The Age Discrimination Act makes it illegal to discriminate older adults due to their age. Hire an elder law attorney to make a claim.
Elder Abuse or Fraud
If you’ve experienced elder abuse, you deserve to have the situation remedied by an elder law attorney. Emotional, physical and financial abuse are all to be taken seriously. An attorney can help relocate you, contact the authorities or even regain your stolen funds.
Grandparents Visitation Rights
Each state has different laws related to grandparents’ rights of visitation. If you feel you’ve been unlawfully removed from your grandchildren’s lives, then an elder law attorney can help you determine the best course of action to reconnect.
Veterans’ Benefits
An elder law attorney can help you explore your eligibility for multiple veterans’ benefits. This includes disability compensation and disability pension.

Best Law Firms for Elder Law

Finding a high-quality law firm is essential to handling your case quickly and effectively. U.S. News has a list of the best law firms for elder law available. There are requirements and qualifications to earn a spot on this list.

Factors That Determine Which Firms Make U.S. News’ Best Law Firm List
  • Response rate
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Civility
  • Number of recommendations to friends and family
  • Professional references
  • Have at least one attorney recognized in the current Best Lawyers edition
  • Levels of expertise

Determine which law firms serve your area before contacting an elder law attorney.

Qualities of a Successful Elder Law Attorney

A successful elder law attorney tends to someone who is certified, has credible references, is a bar member and has practiced law for at least five years. You can check with your state’s bar association to make sure they’re currently practicing and haven’t been subject to any disciplinary actions.

Pro Tip
Make sure your elder law attorney is certified by the National Elder Law Foundation. They should be currently practicing and have practiced for the past five years.

The National Elder Law Foundation has an attorney directory search to help you find a licensed elder law attorney near you.

Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney

Asking specific questions can help you avoid unnecessary fees and ensure your elder law attorney’s expertise fits your current legal needs. Ask questions on the phone first before setting up your first consultation.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Elder Law Attorney
  • How long have you been practicing?
  • How successful have your elder law cases been?
  • Is there a fee for the first consultation?
  • How much would you charge per hour for my particular case?
Source: National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Remember that they may not be able to give you an exact estimate for cost over the phone. The attorney will likely determine a price after they review your case thoroughly. Once you choose your elder law attorney, you should ask them a different round of questions during your first appointment.

Questions to Ask During Your First Consultation
  • How long will it take to resolve my case?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of my case?
  • What is the cost of handling my case?
  • How are fees determined?
  • If there is a trial involved? If so, will you oversee it?
Source: National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring Elder Law Attorneys

Elder Law Attorney FAQs
At what age should a person contact an elder law attorney?
You aren’t required to wait until you’re nearing retirement to contact an elder law attorney. Planning for your retirement, knowing your rights and setting up a care plan for your loved ones can start as soon as you turn 18.
How much do elder law attorneys cost?
Most elder law attorneys charge by the hour. A common range for an elder law attorney is between $175 to $500 per hour. Your cost depends on the complexity of your case and the time it will take to be handled.
How to prepare for an elder law attorney?
Have your questions ready and be prepared to provide all documents needed that are relevant to your case. The more prepared you are, the quicker your session will end. Since elder law attorneys typically charge by the hour, being prepared can save you hundreds of dollars.
Last Modified: July 26, 2022

6 Cited Research Articles

  1. American Council on Aging. (2022, March 22). Elder Care Attorneys, Medicaid Lawyers and the Medicaid Planning Process. Retrieved from https://www.medicaidplanningassistance.org/elder-law-attorneys/#:~:text=Cost%20of%20Elder%20Law%20Attorneys%20and%20Medicaid%20Planning,-There%20isn't&text=Medicaid%20planning%20fees%20can%20range%20from%20%243%2C000%20to%20%2415%2C000
  2. World Health Organization. (2021, September 2). Dementia. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia#:~:text=Currently%20more%20than%2055%20million,million%20new%20cases%20every%20year
  3. National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. (2020). Questions & Answers When Looking for An Elder Law and Special Needs Planning Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.naela.org/Web/Consumers_Tab/Consumer_Resources/Questions_and_Answers.aspx
  4. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. (2019, April 3). What Is the Lifetime Risk of Needing and Receiving Long-Term Services and Supports? Retrieved from https://aspe.hhs.gov/reports/what-lifetime-risk-needing-receiving-long-term-services-supports-0
  5. Miller, J. (2019, March 23). Minimum Age to Get Help from an Elder Law Attorney. Retrieved from https://www.mamedicaid.com/blog/minimum-age-elder-law/
  6. U.S. News. (n.d.) Methodology Overview. Retrieved from https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx