Barbara Fradkin – FLORIDA TODAY

Q: Do I really need an Elder Law Attorney?

by Barbara Fradkin

A: Great question! Before I became a social worker, I thought one attorney was just like another. But as I became a specialist in my own field, I learned that attorneys (like doctors) have specialties, too.

Elder law attorneys are advocates for seniors and their loved ones.

They handle a wide range of matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and more.

Having an elder care attorney working on your behalf can make it much easier to navigate the legal maze of financial and medical circumstances related to aging.

So how, specifically can they help?

Estate Planning

Elder law attorneys can help you with your estate planning.

Everyone (not just rich people) should have a Power of Attorney, Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney.

These documents will allow someone you designate to make medical and financial decision for you if you are unable to do so for yourself. The attorney can evaluate your circumstances and assist you in completing a will, trust, and plan for long-term care needs and medical costs.

If you become incapacitated and do NOT have a Power of Attorney, a conservatorship for financial matters and guardianship for medical decisions may be required.

This requires a court proceeding, whereby someone is appointed by a judge.

If you do your estate planning early, you can avoid this scenario and choose your own designee!

Long-term Care

Private in-home care or long-term facilities can be very expensive.

What do you do if you don’t have the finances for it?

How do you navigate the Medicaid system?

Are you a veteran and eligible for government benefits?

This is all part of the work of an elder law attorney.

Mediation, Probate & more

As we age, some situations become difficult to handle.

Aging parents may be unable to make the decisions they once could.

What happens when those roles shift and the adult children need to make decisions for Mom and Dad?

“Kids” who cannot get along or agree about care decisions? Who can mediate this?

Then there’s probate. We’ve been told it’s something we should avoid, but how?

What about second marriages and blended families? Elder exploitation? So many questions!

When situations change, elder law attorneys can guide us.

Get your thorniest questions answered when One Senior Place hosts an eight-part seminar series on Elder Law, starting in September. Check for dates and topics or call me at 321-751-6771 for details.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the Director for One Senior Place, Viera.