There has been no shortage of discussion in recent years about how much the nation’s population is aging. And while Florida was once considered a major focal point for the nation’s retired population, other states have seen an even greater increase in their share of the over-65 population group. Still, even though it may no longer be one of the more enduring centers of the senior citizen universe, the state of Florida still has its share of older residents. It’s no wonder then that Florida elder law has become such an important part of the legal landscape in the state.
What is Elder Law?
Surprisingly, many people are still remarkably unfamiliar with the very concept of elder law. To many, the term is all but meaningless, primarily due to the common understanding that we don’t have separate laws for different classes or groups of people in the United States. Instead, laws apply to everyone equally – at least in theory. That’s certainly true with elder law as well, since many of these legal issues can become a concern for individuals at almost any age. Nevertheless, elder law does have a distinct meaning and remains an important part of our state’s legal structure.
Put simply, elder law concerns itself with those legal issues that primarily impact the elderly. Within that broad definition, one finds concerns about things like Medicaid planning to ensure benefit eligibility to pay for long-term care, incapacity planning, protection against elder abuse, and many other elder-related topics. Other areas of law are typically recognized by the types of cases they generate. Criminal law, for example, concerns itself with matters related to the criminal code and violations of the law by criminals. Business law is concerned with issues that are related to business. Elder law is somewhat unique in that it focuses its attention on a particular demographic group rather than the problem that needs to be resolved.
That makes elder law a fairly broad category of legal concern, since it includes all of those legal issues that can impact seniors. The reason why elder law is so important should be fairly obvious: seniors have legal interests and needs that differ dramatically from much of the rest of the population. After all, the average thirty-year-old doesn’t need to spend much time worrying about how to qualify for Medicaid without becoming destitute. Most forty-year-olds aren’t specifically targeted for various types of fraud or abuse. Seniors routinely face these challenges and more.
What Do Elder Law Attorneys Do?
Elder law lawyers focus a large part of their practice on those issues affecting seniors and their families. That last part is important, since the aging process tends to impact the entire family. The children of aging parents are often deeply invested in the wellbeing of their elderly loved ones. Many are involved in helping to care for mom and dad, and many provide some measure of financial assistance for things like long-term care. And many are frustrated when they see their loved ones abused or otherwise mistreated.
Elder law attorneys provide an important front line of defense for these families, serving as advocates to help shield and protect seniors’ interests at some of the most challenging times of their lives. The practice of elder law encompasses so many areas of legal expertise that it can include important planning that begins decades before the senior retires, as well as strategies designed to protect that senior’s estate when he or she dies. Elder law is life planning and maintenance that only ends when the senior’s life comes to a close.
The Senior’s Goals Matter
The type of assistance that any elder law attorney can provide to a given senior is ultimately dependent upon the type of goals the senior is pursuing. It’s easy to forget that our older citizens still have goals in life, since many people mistakenly assume that retirement brings with it an end to such things. It does not. Goals shift and evolve, and may encompass concerns that were of little interest a decade prior to retirement, but they remain important objectives all the same.
For most seniors, the primary goal is to protect and preserve quality of life. No senior just wants to fade into obscurity; almost all of them still have things they’d like to achieve – even if it’s just learning how to master that hobby that never received their full attention during the working years. Almost all seniors want to remain as independent as possible for as long as they can. They want the same dignity that humans of every age crave. And, of course, they want to be financially secure, with many focused on leaving behind some sort of sound legacy for their loved ones.
Whatever their goals, seniors should be able to rely upon competent elder law attorneys to help them navigate the complexities of all these issues. These attorneys can help seniors develop strategies to make the most of their estate planning to provide for themselves and care for their loved ones when they’re gone. They can assist with Medicaid planning and eligibility, to ensure that their estates are not utterly consumed by Florida nursing home costs – costs that are expected to rise to even greater heights in the decade to come. Just as important, they can help seniors to avoid being preyed upon by unscrupulous criminals and other predators and con artists.
At Robert Kulas Attorneys at Law, our estate planning and elder law attorneys can help to guide you and your loved ones through the broad spectrum of elder law issues in Florida. Whether your concerns are related to nursing home financing, elder abuse, estate planning needs, or any other area of elder law in the state, we can assist you as you secure your rights and interests and accomplish your life and end-of-life goals. To find out more about all that we can do for you in this important area of the law, contact us online or call us today at (772) 398-0720.