"What is Elder Law?"
When we tell people that we handle Elder Law cases, most people don't have a real clear picture of what that means. Many just assume that we only have elderly clients, or that we can handle any case brought to us by an elderly individual. So what is "Elder Law"? What does it mean when we say we practice "Elder Law"?
First of all, "Elder Law" is a bit of a misnomer. When we say that we handle "Elder Law" cases, it means that we provide legal services for issues commonly faced by the elderly, but also by individuals who are disabled or have special needs. We are particularly knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to helping individuals with disabilities, no matter what their age, deal with legal issues relating to diminished intellectual capacity and their long-term care needs.
As Elder Law attorneys, we advocate and protect the rights of individuals to make their own decisions whenever it is possible for them to do so. This right is crucial for all people, but is particularly important for individuals living with mental illnesses, chronic ailments and other conditions that lead to frequent incapacity. While these people may be able to make their own decisions and articulate their preferences for treatment the majority of the time, there are periods when, owing to their illness, they are unable to do so. We can help those individuals implement plans that will ensure their medical care preferences are known and followed. For those individuals who cannot make decisions for themselves, whether because of a developmental disability, such as Down's Syndrome, a traumatic brain injury, or Alzheimer's disease, we ensure that a capable decision maker is appointed.
We Elder Law attorneys focus our practice on several areas of the law that affect the elderly and disabled individuals of all ages. Issues we can help with include:
For those with capacity and the ability to make decisions on their own behalf: Wills, Living Wills, Durable Financial Powers of Attorney, Mental Health Care Powers of Attorney
For those who lack capacity and are unable to make decisions on their own behalf: Guardianship of the Person (medical and healthcare decision making), Guardianship of the Estate (financial decision making), Contested guardianship, Uncontested guardianship
For all individuals with disabilities, their relatives, caregivers and loved ones: Long-term care planning, Asset protection planning, Crisis Medical Assistance ("Medicaid") planning, Third-party created Special Needs Trusts, First-party created Special Needs Trusts, Medical Assistance Estate Recovery, Abuse of Power of Attorney, Elder Abuse, Protection from Abuse ("PFAs")
There are, of course, many other issues that elderly and disabled individuals face. This list is by no means exhaustive!
As attorneys, we are knowledgeable in the law, of course, but above all, we strive to make the legal process as simple and as cost-effective as possible. We are acutely aware of the financial and emotional stress placed on individuals with disabilities and their loved ones. Our hope is to ease that burden and allow our clients to enjoy the highest quality of life possible.
If you are concerned about legal issues affecting your loved one who is elderly or disabled, or if you are worried about planning for the future, contact McMorrow Law, LLC (724) 940-0100 to discuss your case with a Pennsylvania Elder Law attorney.