What Changes Are Affecting Elder Law in 2023?
Elder law is a branch of law that deals with legal issues that affect the elderly. It encompasses a wide range of legal matters such as estate planning, guardianship, long-term care planning, and government benefits. The elderly population is growing at an unprecedented rate, and this has led to a growing need for specific legal services that cater to the elderly.
1. The Population of Senior Citizens is Increasing
According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to reach 73 million by 2030. As the population of senior citizens increases, so does the need for elder law services. Attorneys specializing in elder law will have to familiarize themselves with the changing needs of this growing population to provide the best legal services.
2. Medicaid Planning
Medicaid planning is an essential part of elder law that focuses on helping seniors who require long-term care to access government-funded healthcare. The federal government has ongoing concerns about the escalating costs of Medicaid; state governments have been enacting policies aimed at reducing Medicaid expenditures. For instance, the proposed Medicaid reforms aim to end home-based care for some older adults and limit Medicaid eligibility for seniors. These policy changes will significantly affect the access of the elderly to Medicaid-funded home care.
3. Guardianship and Conservatorship
A guardianship or conservatorship is a legal arrangement that gives a court-appointed individual the power to manage the affairs of an incapacitated older adult. The appointed person can make decisions related to health care, living arrangements, and financial affairs. As the U.S. population ages, we see a higher number of guardianships and conservatorships. In 2023, elder law attorneys will be called upon to expand their services in this area to cater to a higher number of people needing these services.
4. Changes in Estate Planning
Estate planning involves the creation of legal documents, such as wills and trusts, that outline how an individual’s assets will be managed after their death. With a growing population of senior citizens in the U.S., the estate planning industry is expected to experience significant changes. As some older adults become more estate-building conscious, lawyers must adapt their services to address changes in wealth management techniques and draft wills that align with their clients’ particular financial profiles and goals.
5. Changes in Social Security
Social Security is a government program that provides income to retired Americans. The cost of providing these benefits is increasing due to the growing number of beneficiaries. While the program is expected to survive financially until 2035, the government may have to make difficult decisions to keep it solvent. Legal professionals specializing in elder law will have to stay apprised of these changes and factor them into their clients’ financial planning.
6. Technological advances
Technology is advancing rapidly, and it is affecting the way many business sectors operate, including the legal industry. Elder law attorneys must take advantage of technological innovations to improve their services and keep up with growing needs. For instance, legal document preparation software allows for the easy, cost-effective drafting of legal documents, while teleconferencing allows attorneys to interact with clients from the comfort of their homes. Elder law attorneys must embrace technological innovations to provide high-quality legal services and enhance their clients’ satisfaction.
7. COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted life worldwide, and it has had a profound effect on the elderly population. The virus is causing a higher mortality rate among older adults, and it has increased the demand for elder law services. Elder law attorneys must adjust their services to cater to older adults who are more isolated and have less contact with friends and family members than before the pandemic.
The future of elder law is sure to look different than it does today. The changes taking place in elder law practice demand a higher degree of specialization and expertise from legal professionals. Attorneys who can adapt to the changing environment will continue to provide critical legal services that can positively impact the quality of life of seniors. The law needs constant revision to keep up with changes and reflect societal transformations; and with these changes, it is hoped that the elderly population can be catered for and remain protected.
Categorised in: Elder Law