Who is an Elder?
An elder is someone who has typically reached retirement age of 66/67 years old. In this respect the person may have life-experiences which lend to complicated financial matters requiring attention, unique legal protection and assistance, and unfortunately may lead to a higher level of abuse than other age groups.
What is Elder Law?
As Australia’s population ages there has become a growing need for legal services to provide elder-specific expertise. As an elder population, there are legal aspects which don’t yet affect the younger population. In addition, the legality surrounding the elder population often directly affects more than the elder involved, as guardianship and estate planning will help determine who will assist the person as well as asset distribution after death.
Elder law categories
Elder law is the legal practice which emphasizes issues affecting the aged population. There are three major categories, each covering a variety of subcategories. The three categories are:
- Estate planning. Simply, estate planning, is determining what will happen to your assets when you pass away. Due to many factors, such as accumulation of wealth and property, as well as family dynamics estate planning can be complicated, and often unfair if a proper plan has not been put in place preceding death. By properly planning your estate before death you can ensure your wishes are met in who receives your property and who is responsible for implementing your wishes.
- Long-term care. Long-term care law often focuses on care of the elderly or disabled who require specific attention due to age or disability. According to research conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, approximately 1 in 6 older Australians experience some form of elder abuse.
- All adults are assumed to be able to make their own decisions, unless affected by mental disabilities which the court determines can negatively impact decision making. In this case, a guardian is appointed by the court to assist, or make, legal, financial, or health decisions in the best interest of the person. Often disagreements arise in who should be appointed as the legal guardian, as well as the decisions that guardian makes. Older Australians may also elect to prepare legal documents in preparation for the future, for example to appoint a trusted individual as an Attorney, as a Medical Treatment Decision Makers, or to provide advance care directives.
What Elder Law Lawyers Can do for You?
With a fast-growing elderly population Australia is seeing a higher-demand for services and benefits. As benefits and laws change to assist the ageing population a strong understanding of the changes and how they affect the law is required. Due to the specialization of needs in elder care it is important to hire lawyers who understand this area of law which includes various issues including:
- Financial disputes
- Specific guardianship for financial, property, healthcare, and accommodations.
- Social security
- Residential Aged Care facility fees and care charges
- Retirement planning
- Business succession planning
- Estate planning, asset protection, and disputes
- Modifying, or the challenge of wills
- Physical or financial abuse
- Superannuation entitlement
- Retirement Village entry, provisions and legal requirements.
Whether you are looking to protect your assets, determine how they are distributed upon death, or who can make, or assist in making, decisions on your behalf, an elder care practiced lawyer is your best bet for getting the results you are looking for.