Unlike other legal practice areas, “Elder Law” is defined by the client it serves, rather than the area of law. Elder Law includes the practice of counseling and representing older persons, their representatives, and their families about the legal aspects of estate planning, health and long-term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision-making, capacity, conservation, and the disposition and administration of estates.
A major focus of most Elder Law practices, and a major concern of most Elder Law clients includes planning for the complex health care, long-term care, and other issues facing elderly and disabled individuals and their families. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives. In 2013 the average cost for nursing home care in North Carolina was $77,500 annually. The high cost of this care has made planning critically important for most middle-class seniors and their families.