Elder law is an area of practice that revolves around the variety of legal issues that affect the elderly population. The definition sounds broad, because it is. “Legal issues” could be anything from age discrimination or medical malpractice.
As a result, elder law attorneys are sort of a jack of all trades. Those who practice elder law often specialize in a number of other areas of practice so to provide their clients optimal assistance. Most elder law attorneys specialize in Medicaid Protection, Long-Term Care/Asset Protection, Veterans Benefits, Special Needs Planning/Trusts, Guardianship, Estate Planning, and Wills & Trusts—and that is just scratching the surface.
“Elder law is unique in that we define work by the client, not the subject,” Mark Shalloway, president of Shalloway & Shalloway says. “…elder law covers 13 different areas— from guardianship, living wills, and public benefits like Medicaid. We use wills and trusts, but we also use long term care facilities and taxes. People don’t realize that the field covers over 12 areas.”
In elder law, all of these fields and more are not ornamental—they are fundamental to the area of practice. At the core of elder law, attorneys work to help their clients receive the care they need. For the senior community and their families, these needs are diverse and plentiful. For seniors who did not plan for retirement as well as they should have, an elder law attorney can help with asset protection and estate planning. When a medical emergency arises and money is tight, an elder law attorney can help get the Medicaid Protection or Veterans Benefits (for some) they have the rights to. When assisted living comes into question, elder law attorneys can help make that expense far more manageable.
“…now nursing homes are priced at $10,000. Most of us in middle class cannot afford that,” Mark Shalloway says. “Elder care lawyers look into these problems to find ways to benefit others. That is the heart and soul of elder law.”
In places where the elder population is high, such as the state of Florida, elder law is especially important. In the city of West Palm Beach alone, nearly 25 percent of the population is made up of seniors. That is far above the national average, which was 14.5 percent in 2014. It is crucial that places like Palm Beach County have elder law attorneys who are responsive, and truly care about their clients.
But where there is a need for elder law, there is also a need for further education on the topic. It is one thing to be have a quality attorney. It is another to be knowledgeable of the field and genuinely make decisions for the future of a loved one that will actually benefit them in the long run. To combat this dire need for education, Mark Shalloway developed free, monthly seminars in Palm Beach County that cover anything from assets, to probate, to illness, and so much more. If you can get to the seminars, you can attend them. After advising families for years about protecting loved ones, Shalloway decided to take this information to the public and make that information common knowledge.
It is important to be knowledgeable about each aspect of elder law, so that when the time comes, you can make decisions for your loved ones—or yourself—that will truly change your life for the better. That is what elder law is all about.