Senior Citizen Law 101

Elder Law attorneys deal with Social Security, prescription drug benefits and estate taxes.
Increasingly important because of the growing number of Americans over 65, senior citizen, or elder law, deals with issues frequently at the top of voters' minds: Social Security, prescription drug benefits and estate taxes.

See these profiles of elder law attorneys.

The main issues of senior citizen law fall into the categories of finances and health.

  • Estate planning: Who will inherit what, charitable giving and tax implications. The more money involved, the more likely it is that you'll need a lawyer.

  • Social Security, pensions and retirement plans: Eligibility and amount of benefits. The intricate bureaucratic maze presented by these areas can be daunting enough to move many to call on the professionals.

  • Medicare, Medicaid, Medigap and managed care: You generally can find eligibility requirements online or in a library, but rapidly changing laws and the fact that banks and creditors have been known to target these benefits (despite prohibitions) can make these areas too difficult to handle without a lawyer's help.

  • Healthcare choices: What are your options, and how you can make sure you have a say in decisions involving long-term or a terminal condition such as a coma? A lawyer may help you draft a living will and a power of attorney to ensure that your wishes are met after you're no longer able to voice them. (Experts recommend you address these areas even if your golden years are a long distance away.)

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