Finances and Aging

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Get an Elder Law Attorney

"Talk to an elder law attorney," says Jacqueline Marcell, author of Elder Rage, or Take My Father...Please! How to Survive Caring for Aging Parents, and host of the radio program Coping with Caregiving. "The laws are different in every state, but it's important to know what financial aid is available for your elder parent."

An elder law attorney can guide you and your parents in answering questions related to insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, estate planning, probate, and administration and management of trusts. Rhodes lists the following questions as examples of what you might ask an elder law attorney:

  • How long has the attorney been practicing in general, and how long has he specialized in elder law?
  • What is the attorney's specialty in elder law?
  • What percentage of her practice is dedicated to elder law?
  • What professional associations does the attorney belong to?
  • Is there a charge for consultation?

As important as it is to ask all the right questions, it's also important to choose an attorney with whom you and your elder parent are comfortable. Trust your instincts when choosing an attorney, in the same way you would when you choose a healthcare provider.

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys offers a registry of elder law attorneys nationwide. You can find one in your area on their Web site.


"It's also very important to set up a durable power of attorney," says Marcell. "This is so vital. Do it BEFORE it's too late. If your parent is diagnosed with dementia before they sign over power of attorney to you, it's too late."


Caregiving as Your Parents Age, by Dr. Linda Rhodes

Elder Rage, by Jacqueline Marcell

Aging Answers, by Valerie VanBooven


Coping with Caregiving radio program, with Jacqueline Marcell

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys


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