The Elder Law Lawyer

As I have grown to know elder law attorneys from Pennsylvania and across the States, I have found they come in all shapes and sizes with varying interests, specialties and approaches. We all have at least one thing in common- that being an intense passion to help the class of clients we serve, the elderly and/or disabled person and their families.

When I hear elder law attorneys stereotyped as only “Medicaid Planners” or denigrated in any manner, I want to invite them into my world for a day as such statements reflect a lack of understanding of the elder law practice. Our clients come to us with a wide range of potentially devastating issues and concerns- health care and quality of care, housing choices, family conflicts, real property, guardianship, lifetime decision-making and estate planning, and more.   We assist our clients in navigating a confusing maze of laws and services to protect their rights and to access quality care. This is a practice of law of which each of us should be proud.

These matters require knowledge of numerous state and federal public and private programs, not just Medicaid, but also Medicare, health, life and long term care insurance and drug plans, annuities and reverse mortgages, Social Security, PACE, Aging programs, VA benefits, housing options and programs, both public and private.  Our clients’ issues require knowledge of state and federal laws relating to estate planning, trusts, disability, health, probate, tax, family, real estate and housing. It truly is a complex maze that requires dedicated skill and extensive knowledge to navigate.

It is a uniquely challenging practice. Our clients and their families each present different fact situations that require understanding, empathy, patience, and often, much of our time. There are no “cookie-cutter” solutions to their needs. The applicable laws, regulations and informal “policies”, both state and federal, are many, complex and ever changing.

Elder Law is a practice that requires specialization and devotion to do well.

When done properly, it is both a rewarding and heart wrenching practice. There is nothing like the hug from the grateful client or family member, the sincere thank you notes, the kind holiday cards, and the often shed tears of gratitude. And then there is the dying. There is the reality of the elder law practice that after growing close to our clients, they most certainly will die as we serve them. Our relationship ends not with a traditional close out letter, but more often with the sending of a sympathy card, attending a funeral and winding up estate matters.

Our Elder Law practices are so much more than business transactions. They are relationships that are personally and professionally satisfying for us as attorneys and as individuals. On the part of our clients, I can only quote a recent client of mine who after I described my services, said with a smile, “You’re one of the good guys.” Yes, Elder Law lawyers are good guys and gals. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise!

By Leslie Wizelman, CELA | Wyalusing, PA | http://www.lesliewizelman.com/

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be advertising, solicitation, or legal advice.  This article may not reflect the most recent legal changes.  Individual circumstances vary, and laws differ from state to state.  If you have a question about your specific situation, we recommend that you find a certified elder law attorney in your area.

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