The question of “what is elder law” is a common question that many elder law attorneys hear on a regular basis. Even though America is, as a whole, getting older day by day, few people have direct experience or knowledge of elder law and the issues it covers.
Consider some numbers. According to the United States Census Bureau, Americans age 65 and older make up 14.1% of the general population, while in Florida, people 65 and older make up 18.7% of the population. Further, as the baby boomer generation gets older, 10,000 Americans reach the age of 65 everyday.
For all of these senior citizens, not to mention their families and loved ones, elder law will become an increasingly important topic because it encompasses issues that they are most likely to face as they age. To help better understand what elder law is, let’s take a look at some of these vital issues.
It’s a broad category of topics.
Elder law is somewhat unique in the law in that it isn’t really a specific field, but rather a variety of fields unified by a common experience. That experience is the aging process itself. We are all aging all the time, but as people become seniors, they experience some of the most significant changes of their lives. Many of these changes have serious legal aspects to them.
So, elder law is simply a broad category of legal topics that is most likely to affect people because of the aging process. More specifically, it’s most likely to effect seniors and other elderly people because of the significant changes that they experience as they age.
It’s not something that only affects the elderly.
A lot of people, when hearing the term “elder law,” mistakenly believe that it’s only something they need to worry about if they are elderly themselves. While it is true that most of the topics of elder law attorneys deal with are primarily those that affect elderly people, these issues can also affect younger people.
For example, it’s very common for elderly people who are diagnosed with diseases like Alzheimer’s disease to experience a significant, and sometimes rapid, loss of mental capacity. When this happens, the elderly person, as well as his or her family members and loved ones, has to face some serious legal questions about who gets to make decisions on that person’s behalf.
However, this loss of capacity is something that anyone can experience at any time. It isn’t solely restricted to elderly people. In other words, younger people can face the same issues that elderly people face, and require the same services that elder law attorneys provide.
It’s something you can plan for.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from legal complications arising out of the aging process is to begin planning as soon as possible. Talking to an elder law attorney and getting started on the planning process is absolutely essential if you want to be sure you are protected.