by: Candace McDuffie
Elder law, which covers an array of legal matters affecting older and/or disabled people, is often overlooked by younger adults due to its specific and distinct nature. An attorney specializing in this form of law is equipped to handle the difficult emotional and physical aspects pertaining to the needs of those transitioning into the next phase of their lives. Essentially, they help their clients navigate sensitive subject matter such as devising wills, estate planning, probate proceedings, long term health care options (including power of attorney), retirement, guardianship, veteran benefits and Medicare/Medicaid. So why should young people care about how elder law works?
The most obvious reason is the one that is greatly dreaded and frequently ignored: people suffer from debilitating accidents that can prevent them from working and leave them (and their family) in serious financial hardship. According to the Social Security Administration website, 1 out of 4 twenty-year-olds will become disabled before retirement age. This encompasses a plethora of conditions ranging from mental illness to medical emergencies. Not properly planning for the unexpected could result in loss of assets and unwanted medical and even nursing home costs. Consulting with an elder law attorney won’t stop the unpredictable from happening, but it can better prepare you for it.
Another important reason why young people should be invested in elder law can be summed up in one word: family. Many people have older family members who aren’t adept at handling important transitioning and end of life issues. Young adults can help facilitate the processes of financial representation, the appointment of a legal guardian, and locating long term care facilities by educating themselves on how elder law works. In addition, people who are looking to start families often focus on the immediate costs (unpaid parental leave, childcare, clothing and diapers) but should also consider a more sobering reality that includes planning for the future.
Elder law attorneys can help parents-to-be with guardianship and inheritance for minor children, help grow and protect financial assets, and select a power of attorney. They also can advise you on what to do if you suddenly become incapacitated and are in need of a health care proxy (or even disability insurance coverage), need help starting your child’s college fund, and even your own retirement. Without a plan, the state will decide who makes your health care decisions, how your assets will be handled, and who will take care of your children.
Elder law attorneys are instrumental in ensuring that you and your family have peace of mind when it comes to managing unforeseen circumstances. When it comes to quality of life, no one should have to suffer because they weren’t ready for what was thrown their way. While elder law and the topics that they cover are difficult for most to face, it is vital for people–no matter their age–to make sure that they (and their family) will be taken care of in the direst situations. If this is a service you are currently in need of, reach out to DangerLaw today.
Candace McDuffie is a dedicated journalist and teacher who holds a Master’s Degree in Education specializing in Critical and Creative Thinking from the University at Massachusetts Boston. Her work has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Vibe, Racked, Brooklyn Magazine, Fusion, WBUR, Metro, and The Daily Dot. She currently teaches creative writing at GrubStreet, a Boston-based nonprofit writing center. You can find more of her work at www.candacemcduffie.com.