“Elder Law” has been defined as the legal practice of counseling and representing older persons, their representatives and their families about the legal aspects of estate planning, health and long-term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision-making, capacity, conservation, disposition and administration of older persons’ estates, and the implementation of their decisions concerning such matters.
Elder law attorneys can give necessary consideration to the applicable tax consequences of the action and the need for more sophisticated tax, health care, public benefits and estate planning expertise. Washington elder law attorneys understand and recognize issues of concern that arise during counseling and representation of older and incapacitated persons, or their representatives, with respect to abuse, neglect, exploitation, insurance, housing, long-term care, employment and retirement.
Elder law attorneys are also be familiar with the resources and services available to meet the needs of older persons. and must further be capable of recognizing professional conduct and ethical issues that arise during such representation.
Elder law integrates the legal system with social and medical concerns for the benefit of the client. An elder law attorney is knowledgeable about Federal laws and Washington laws which affect an individual’s well being and personal wishes.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (“NAELA”) is a non-profit association of attorneys who devote a significant part of their practice to working with older clients and their families. The Academy was established in 1987 to provide resources and assistance to attorneys who deal in the highly specialized issues which its members encounter on a daily basis in providing legal services to elderly clients and those with special needs.
The Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (“WA NAELA”) consists of NAELA members who not only practice elder law, but are also especially aware of and concerned with the special issues pertaining to the practice of elder law in Washington State. WA NAELA members are very concerned with access to justice issues and have participated in many efforts to ensure reasonable access to appropriate legal advice and services. In addition, the great majority of our members provide a significant amount of pro bono and reduced fee services to the public.
The mission of WA NAELA is: “To inspire and empower members to achieve excellence in providing legal services and advocacy that enhance the quality of life for seniors and persons with special needs.”
HOW MAY A WASHINGTON
ELDER LAW ATTORNEY
When discussing specific situations with a WA NAELA member lawyer, the attorney listens carefully to all facts. Problems and situations concerning elders can be difficult and frustrating and are often overwhelming. While the attorney is listening, she/he is identifying the legal issues which need to be addressed. The attorney can prioritize the issues and discuss possible solutions and recommendations.
Should the need arise, the WA NAELA member lawyer may associate with other legal experts in the fields of elder advocacy, such as nursing home injury, abuse or neglect; complex tax situations; and family law matters.
Some issues are best attended to immediately, while others can be accommodated with a well considered plan or timetable.
WA NAELA member lawyers vary in how they charge for services. Some use a flat fee which is a departure from the traditional hourly rate usually charged by other attorneys. Clients should always feel free to discuss fee arrangements with their attorney.
WHEN SHOULD I CONTACT A WA NAELA MEMBER LAWYER?
The situations in which a WA NAELA member lawyer may be helpful are numerous and may require:
- Durable Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Surrogate Designations
- Living Wills or Advance Directives
- Planning for Long Term Care and Medicaid
- Asset Protection and avoiding Estate Recovery
- Pre-Marital Agreements
- Preventing and Correcting Abuse, Exploitation or Neglect of an Elderly Person
- Residential Alternatives
- Safe Harbor and Special Needs Trusts for Disabled Individuals
- Social Security Benefits
- Tax Issues
- Trusts – Living, Revocable Inter-vivos
- Probate and Estate Administration
Quite often, when clients visit a WA NAELA member lawyer to discuss one area of concern, they discover the attorney may also help them solve related or unexpected problems.
WHY SHOULD I VISIT A WA NAELA MEMBER LAWYER?
A proactive approach to preserving personal autonomy is the best plan. A WA NAELA member lawyer can advise and guide clients in reaching this goal.
WHERE CAN I FIND AN ELDER LAW ATTORNEY?
The laws affecting the elderly are constantly changing so that the Washington Elder Law Attorney must not only keep up with the changes, but also be aware of the trends and shifts in political policy. For this reason, attorneys join the Washington Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Membership in the Academy demonstrates the attorney’s commitment to knowledge, professionalism and service.
Clients may wish to consult our website, located at www.wanaela.org to find names of member Elder Law attorneys in their area. Local Bar Associations may also be a source of referral.
Washington Elder Law Attorneys have an opportunity to become members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and its Washington Chapter and the Elder Law Section of the Washington Bar.
These organizations hold numerous conferences and Continuing Legal Education Seminars where Washington Elder Law Attorneys meet and share information. This enables the attending attorneys to remain current on all the issues that are the most important to their clients.