Elder Law Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Elder Law, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Elder Law?

n. a specialty in legal practice, covering estate planning, wills, trusts, arrangements for care, social security and retirement benefits, protection against elder abuse (physical, emotional and financial), and other concerns of older people. As more people live longer it has become an increasingly important field. (definition revised: 9/02)

History and Meaning of Elder Law

Elder law is a legal specialty that focuses on the particular legal needs of elderly people. It was first recognized as a specialized area of law in the 1980s as a result of the growing population of senior citizens in the United States. Elder law attorneys provide advice and guidance to seniors on issues such as estate planning, retirement, long-term care, guardianship, and abuse.

Elder law is a relatively new field of law, but it has rapidly grown in recent years due to the increasing number of seniors in society who require specialized legal services. Elder law attorneys may work in private practice, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations.

Examples of Elder Law

  • A senior citizen seeks an elder law attorney's assistance in creating a living will and establishing a healthcare proxy.
  • A couple approaches an elder law attorney to help them plan for Medicaid asset protection while also ensuring their estate is distributed appropriately after their passing.
  • A family caregiver consults with an elder law attorney to determine the best course of action for obtaining guardianship of their elderly relative.
  • An elderly person contacts an elder law attorney to report financial fraud and abuse they have experienced from a caretaker.

Legal Terms Similar to Elder Law

  • Estate Planning: A legal specialty that focuses on the management and distribution of an individual's assets after their death.
  • Trusts and Estates: Another legal specialty that deals with the management and distribution of an individual's assets after their death.
  • Probate Law: The legal process in which a will is validated and the distribution of assets is overseen, usually by a probate court.