F0r Baby Boomers and their parents, the evolution of Elder Law from niche status to a whole practice arena is an important development. This evolution is largely the result of the advancement of medical science that has extended life spans well into the 80’s and 90’s. This extension has had myriad consequences, many of them unforeseen — extended life can be true golden years, or it can be a misery of dementia, dependence and family financial ruin.
Fifty years ago, estate planning was concerned primarily with dispositive wishes and tax deferral or avoidance; today, we are concerned not only with those issues but with planning for long-term healthcare, healthcare decision-making; planning for incapacity, Medicare and Medicaid planning, retirement benefits, and special needs trusts.
Elder Law attorneys must often balance the interests of family member interests while still adhering to ethical constraints regarding client confidentiality and communication. The Elder Law attorney owes the client the professional duties of loyalty and high ethical standards and must identify potential conflicts of interest that may exist among joint clients, or among fiduciaries.