Elder Law did not exist in May of 1963, when John F. Kennedy was still President. Nevertheless, because of his dedication to honoring seniors, May has become National Elder Law Month.
So how did it begin, and exactly what is Elder Law?
Just a few months prior to his assassination, JFK issued Proclamation 3527, declaring the month of May “Senior Citizens Month.” According to this landmark document, JFK wanted to the nation to honor this “great national resource of skills, wisdom, and experience.” Furthermore, he believed it necessary that “persons in their later years” have the opportunity to benefit from America’s “economic wealth, science, technology, and culture.”
In order to accomplish these goals, President Kennedy proclaimed that all “informational and educational means should be used” to pave the way for older Americans to have equal opportunities and lead “useful and satisfying lives.” He believed it was also the duty of the Federal Government to provide the “leadership, encouragement, and assistance” to States and organizations who work to further this goal.
Following Kennedy’s example, each and every President has proclaimed May to be the month to remember and show our support for older Americans. In 1980, President Carter changed the name to “Older Americans Month.” And on behalf of Elder Law attorneys and those over the age of 65, The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys officially proclaimed May “National Elder Law Month.”
While JFK did not directly declare May as National Elder Law Month, his words were an important foundation for the Elder Law field. The goal of Elder Law is to support and defend the rights of older Americans, and ensure they are afforded equal opportunity in our society.
What is Elder Law, and what areas of law does it encompass?
Here is an overview of how I help clients as an Elder Law attorney:
Estate Planning, including setting up a Trust, Will, Power of Attorney, and Advance Healthcare Directive
Medi-Cal Planning, specifically addressing qualifying for long term care plans and asset protection
Special Needs Planning
Conservatorships, both simple and complex/contested Conservatorships
Elder Abuse and Undue Influence
Probate, specifically Estate Administration after the death of a family member
Trust & Probate Litigation
In my firm, we also specifically handle complex Trust/Conservatorship matters that involve financial Elder Abuse and the management of an older person’s care. I believe this is an especially critical area of law because it deals directly with resolving disputes in a way such that the care and well being of an older individual (often with Alzheimer’s or dementia) is not adversely affected.