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What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

When you hear the term 'elder law attorney,' you may wonder exactly what they do. These specialized legal professionals play a vital role in helping seniors and their families navigate the complexities of legal issues specifically affecting older adults. They are advocates and counselors, assisting with a broad range of issues from estate planning to nursing home abuse.

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Call us at (866) 907-1145 24/7 to arrange to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case, or contact us through the website today.

Elder Abuse

Unfortunately, elder abuse, including physical abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation, is a serious concern. Elder law attorneys can provide assistance in these situations by guiding the victim and their family through the process of reporting the abuse and potentially filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Our nursing home abuse lawyers work to protect the rights of seniors and seek justice on their behalf.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing home abuse is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences for vulnerable individuals. It's important to be aware of the signs of nursing home abuse to ensure the safety and well-being of your loved ones. Here are some common signs of nursing home abuse:

Physical Injuries


  • bruises
  • burns
  • fractures
  • sprains
  • or other injuries that cannot be adequately explained or seem inconsistent with the individual's medical condition.

Emotional or Behavioral Changes

Sudden and unexplained changes in  behavior, such as:

  • withdrawal
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • fearfulness
  • agitation
  • or a noticeable decrease in communication.

Poor Personal Hygiene

Neglected personal hygiene, including unwashed hair, dirty clothing, foul odors, bedsores, or unaddressed dental or oral care.

Malnutrition or Dehydration

Significant weight loss or dehydration, including dry skin, cracked lips, sunken eyes, or frequent illnesses related to poor nutrition.

Medication Errors

Failure to administer medications as prescribed, wrong dosages, or unnecessary sedation that may lead to excessive sleepiness or confusion.

Unexplained Financial Transactions

Sudden or unauthorized changes in financial documents, missing personal belongings, unexplained withdrawals or charges, or unauthorized use of credit cards or bank accounts.

Verbal or Emotional Abuse

Frequent yelling, humiliation, intimidation, threats, or derogatory comments by staff members or other residents.

Social Isolation

Isolation from other residents or family members, limited visitation rights, or refusal to allow private conversations or visits.

Staff's Evasive Behavior

The staff members avoid answering questions or seem uncomfortable when specific concerns are raised about the resident's well-being.

There are many different types of nursing home abuse and signs that abuse is happening. If you are concerned your loved one is being abused, give The Law Offices of John M. McCabe a call today.


Elder law attorneys are advocates for the elderly. As elder law lawyers, we stay updated on laws and regulations impacting our clients and often work alongside other professionals such as social workers, psychologists, and medical professionals. We understand the unique needs and challenges of older adults and provide a holistic approach to their legal care.

Retirement Planning

An elder law attorney can offer legal advice on the management of retirement funds and plans to ensure that older adults can comfortably support themselves in their later years. They may offer counsel on pension regulations, retiree health insurance, and income security.

Medicare and Social Security Disputes

Older adults often rely heavily on Medicare and Social Security benefits. An elder law attorney can help clients understand their rights and resolve any disputes they may have with these programs.

Housing Issues

Many legal issues can arise in connection with housing for older adults. These might include:

  • understanding the contracts for an assisted living community or nursing home
  • handling a dispute with a landlord
  • or dealing with foreclosure.

Financial Planning

Elder law attorneys often work with financial planners to ensure that an older adult's financial affairs are in order. They can provide advice on tax planning, asset protection, and other financial issues to preserve an older adult's wealth for future generations.

Disability Planning

If an older adult becomes disabled and unable to manage their own affairs, an elder law attorney can help put measures in place for someone else to step in. This may involve setting up a special needs trust or applying for disability benefits.

Estate Planning and Probate

One of the primary roles of an elder law attorney is assisting with estate planning. They help clients prepare wills, set up trusts, and handle probate issues. This process ensures that an individual’s assets are distributed according to their wishes upon their death. It also helps minimize any potential tax liabilities. Additionally, elder law attorneys can aid in establishing powers of attorney and healthcare directives, important documents that designate trusted individuals to make decisions should the client become incapable of doing so themselves.

Long-Term Care Planning

Another crucial area where an elder law attorney can assist is long-term care planning. As we age, the likelihood of needing assistance with daily activities or medical care increases. Long-term care can be expensive, and understanding how to navigate the financial implications is important. An elder law attorney can provide guidance on options like long-term care insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans' benefits, which can help cover these costs.


If an older adult becomes incapacitated and there are no existing documents like a power of attorney or healthcare directive, it might be necessary to establish guardianship. In such cases, an elder law attorney can help guide families through the process, which can be quite complex and emotionally challenging. Guardianship gives a designated person the legal right to make decisions on behalf of the incapacitated individual.

How Can an Older Adult Law Attorney

Elder Law Attorney

An elder law attorney can provide valuable assistance with various legal and financial matters, including:

  • Estate Planning and Wills
  • Creating a plan for individuals with special needs
  • Handling probate processes
  • Establishing durable power of attorney
  • Healthcare planning
  • Exploring options for long-term care
  • Protecting patient rights
  • Setting up healthcare power of attorney
  • Establishing guardianship Identifying suitable long-term care facilities
  • Defending nursing home resident rights
  • Pursuing nursing home abuse cases
  • Drafting living wills or other advance directives
  • Creating other essential long-term planning documents
  • Organizing financial plans
  • Executing durable financial power of attorney
  • Exploring housing options and planning
  • Managing income, estate, and gift tax issues
  • Controlling assisted living expenses

While you can create certain legal documents like living wills, powers of attorney, or living trusts using DIY forms in straightforward cases, having an elder law attorney's expertise can ensure that all issues are properly addressed and your interests are fully protected.

How Do Older Adult Law Attorneys Bill for Their Services?

The billing practices of elder law attorneys can vary depending on the nature of the services required, the complexity of the case, the nursing home abuse lawyer near me experience. However, here are a few common methods that elder law attorneys may use to bill for their services:

Hourly Rate

This is a common billing method, especially for cases that may require a significant amount of time or involve complicated legal matters. The attorney will track the time they spend on your case and bill you based on their hourly rate. This rate can vary widely based on the factors mentioned above.

Flat Fee

Some elder law attorneys may charge a flat fee for specific services, such as drafting a will or setting up a trust. This can provide a clear understanding upfront of what the cost will be.


In some instances, an attorney may ask for a retainer fee upfront, which is essentially a down payment toward the anticipated costs. The attorney then deducts their fees from this amount as they accrue.

Contingency Fee

In certain types of cases, such as personal injury or nursing home abuse lawsuits, the elder law attorney might agree to work on a contingency basis. This means they only get paid if they win the case or achieve a nursing home abuse lawsuit settlement, taking a percentage of the awarded amount.

How To Find an Older Adult Law Attorney

Finding the right elder law attorney can be a critical step in addressing legal matters related to aging. Here are some strategies and resources that can help in your search:

Personal Referrals

One of the best ways to find a reliable attorney is through personal referrals from people you trust, like friends, family, or colleagues, especially those who have faced similar issues.

Professional Referrals

Other professionals who work with older adults, such as doctors, social workers, or financial planners, may be able to recommend elder law attorneys. If you've worked with an attorney for other matters, they might also suggest a colleague who specializes in elder law.

Local Bar Association

Most local bar associations have a personal injury lawyer referral service, which can connect you to attorneys in various specialties, including elder law.

National Elder Law Foundation (NELF)

The NELF is a national organization that certifies attorneys in elder law. You can use their directory to find a certified elder law attorney in your area.

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)

This is a professional association of attorneys dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to older adults. You can find an attorney using their "Find an Attorney" feature.

Legal Aid

If you're worried about costs, you might be eligible for assistance from a legal aid organization. These organizations provide free or low-cost legal services to those who qualify.

What To Look For in an Older Adult Law Attorney

Finding the right elder law attorney involves considering a range of factors, from their legal expertise to their communication style. Here are several key factors to look for when choosing an elder law attorney:

Experience in Elder Law

One of the most important things to look for is substantial experience in elder law. Ensure that the attorney has handled cases or issues similar to yours.


Elder law is a broad field. If your situation involves a specific issue such as estate planning, long-term care planning, or elder abuse, you might want to look for an attorney who specializes in that area.

Credentials and Certification

Check the attorney's credentials. Are they a member of professional organizations like the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)? Are they certified in elder law by a recognized institution like the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF)?


Do some research about the attorney's reputation. Look for online reviews or ask for references. If possible, speak to former clients to understand their experiences.

Communication Style

Communication is key in any attorney-client relationship. Does the attorney explain things in a way that's easy to understand? Do they listen carefully to your concerns and questions?


Consider the attorney's availability. Will they have enough time to devote to your case? How quickly can you expect responses to your queries or updates about your case?

Transparency about Fees

The attorney should be upfront about their fees and how they bill for their services. Make sure you understand this information before engaging their services.

Empathy and Compassion

Elder law issues can be sensitive and emotionally challenging. Look for an attorney who demonstrates empathy and treats clients with respect and compassion.

Comfort Level

Finally, trust your instincts. Do you feel comfortable with the attorney? Do you trust them to handle your case effectively and with your best interests in mind?

Contact The Law Offices of John M. McCabe

If you or a loved one is a victim of nursing home abuse, our nursing home abuse attorneys can help. Call today.

FREE Consultations

Call us at (866) 907-1145 24/7 to arrange to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your case, or contact us through the website today.
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