In celebration of Older Americans Month, I am going to describe what elder law is and why I am so passionate about it.
The National Elder Law Foundation defines “elder law” as the “legal practice of counseling and representing older persons and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long-term care planning; public benefits; surrogate decision-making; older persons’ legal capacity; the conservation, disposition and administration of older persons’ estates; and the implementation of their decisions concerning such matters, giving due consideration to the applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more sophisticated tax expertise.”
Who usually needs the services that an elder law attorney provides? We recommend that individuals meet with an elder law attorney if they are age 65 and older or who have certain medical or health care conditions which will likely cause the individual to need help with activities of daily living someday. I enjoy helping older people overcome challenges and reach their goals even if other people think they are “old.”
Some people wonder why I am so passionate about helping older people with legal issues. My parents were divorced when I was four years old. My mom and dad worked full time, so I spent a lot of time with my grandparents on both sides.
My Mamaw would take me to get my hair cut. She said, someday you are gonna take me to get my haircut. When Mamaw developed Alzheimer’s, my mom took care of her full time. My mom took her to get her hair done. I enjoyed having Mamaw attend my kids’ soccer, basketball, and baseball games.
Grandmommy would take me to swimming lessons in the summer. When Grandmommy was admitted to the nursing home, Granddaddy was scared to death of poverty.
As I studied law at St. Mary’s, I learned about elder law. The Spirit awakened my passion to use my legal training to help those who are older. I am determined to plead the widow’s cause. My favorite description of how I feel about helping older person’s with their legal issues comes from Blackstone’s Commentaries. “There is a moral responsibility, even higher than the legal, for children to help their needy parents. The duties of children to their parents arise from a principal of natural justice and retribution. For those who gave us existence, we naturally owe subjection and obedience during our minority and honor and reverence ever after; they who protected the weakness of our infancy, are entitled to our protection in the infirmity of their age; They, who by sustenance and education, have enabled their offspring to prosper, ought in return to be supported by that offspring, in case they stand in need of assistance.” 1 Blackstone Commentaries, 446-459