The traditional term for laws associated with older individuals is called elder law and usually encompasses estate planning, future planning, Medicare and Medicaid issues, end-of-life issues, choice-of-living-situation issues, and planning for special-needs children¹. In reality, this area of law covers much more than can be put into a defined list because each elder law situation is unique. However, this area of law is increasingly important as our global population continues to be on the rise² and people are inevitably living longer! The bottom line is aging, law and policy is important, and here are 3 possibly surprising reasons why.
Proactivity is Key
Many attorneys will tell you that almost half of their work is crisis driven. It is no secret that planning pays off in the end, but this is especially true when it comes to this area of the law. The most important way to do this is to be educated. Many people don’t know what their five- and ten-year plans are, and this can a problem, especially when something pops up where proactivity would have saved them time, money, and stress. Proactivity is key and education is the way to get there!
Many Professionals Stretch the Truth
Too many individuals claim to be experts in areas that they are not. Too many stories are out there that exemplify the exploitation that elders face through family members stealing from them or professionals urging them to make bad investments for their own gain. Sad but true, many professionals stretch the truth. It’s crucial that not only are people educated enough in the field, but that people in need of legal elder services do their research when hiring a professional.
Elder Law is Not Just for Elders
This might be the most surprising number in the list for some people. Unfortunately, people don’t always die when they are in their 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s. Unfortunately, people don’t always become disabled later in life; people are born with disabilities and they need help at an earlier time than when they’d be considered “elderly.” Unfortunately, people get sick earlier than in their “elderly” years and need a professional to guide them through their options. Don’t let the label fool you!
The growing population and the growing number of the elderly open up the doors for a growing need for people educated and working in areas directed toward people with specific needs. These specific needs could be based on disabilities, declining health and how to cope financially, and most importantly, planning. The best way to make a difference as a professional is to become more educated on the topic. Stetson's Master of Jurisprudence in Aging, Law and Policy is just one way non-legal professionals can become better advocates.