What is Elder Law?

Elder Law Litigation (1)Elder law is the field of law dealing with estate planning and benefits, including related disability issues. Among other things, elder law attorneys handle benefits applications, facility placement applications, powers of attorney, health care directives, guardianships, conservatorships, wills, and trusts. Although the field is often called “elder law,” elder law attorneys work with people of every age, from children who need special needs trusts to seniors planning their legacies. One purpose of estate planning—such as setting up a power of attorney and health care directive, or maybe even a will or trust—is to prevent problems.

What is litigation?

Litigation is the process of living through a lawsuit. Its purpose is to remedy existing problems. In the context of elder law, litigation generally involves a court proceeding or mediation involving a power-of-attorney accounting, contested guardianship, contested conservatorship, will contest or contested probate proceeding, trust contest or contested trust administration, elder abuse, or financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Issues that often arise in contested cases include creditor disputes, breach of fiduciary duties, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, lack of capacity, undue influence, and financial exploitation.

Elder law attorneys must be familiar with laws governing assets, such as real estate, life estates, remainder interests, timeshares, vehicles, firearms, tangible personal property, long-term disability insurance, life insurance, annuities, investment accounts, joint accounts, etc. Elder law attorneys must also be familiar with government benefits, such as social security, Medicare, and Medicaid (called “medical assistance” in Minnesota).

Attorneys in Minnesota

Elder law litigation attorneys in Minnesota must be familiar with the court rules governing contested elder law cases, including the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Rules of General Practice, the Rules of Evidence, the Rules of Public Access to Records of the Judicial Branch, the standing orders in certain judicial districts, and the procedural rules in the probate code and the trust code.

If you find yourself embroiled in a dispute involving elder law issues, such as a request to remove a fiduciary or an objection to an accounting, hire a litigation attorney familiar with elder law.