In Elder Care, Elder Law News, Estate Planning Awareness

It’s peak springtime and National Elder Law Month is in full bloom! In this month’s column, I aim to educate you about what exactly elder law is, how it can benefit you or your aging loved ones, and provide you with some key resources for gathering more information.

To begin, what is elder law? While it’s true that elder law does cover a range of issues and the clientele is seniors, elder law refers specifically to planning for seniors so that they may protect their rights and their assets, preserve their autonomy, and ensure that they receive the highest quality of care possible as they age. Elder law attorneys are typically qualified to give advice about wills, trusts, and powers of attorney; guardianships (known as interdictions in Louisiana); financing long-term care (including Medicaid and VA benefits); and special needs planning. Some elder law attorneys may also give advice about social security benefits, elder abuse and disability law.

This doesn’t mean every legal issue involving a senior will be an elder law issue, however. Because elder law covers such a wide variety of topics, you want to make sure the attorney you speak with is familiar with the specific type of elder issue you’re seeking help with. For example, if you are a senior who wants to prepare a new will and your spouse is ill, the attorney needs to know enough about Medicaid to know whether it is an issue with regard to your spouse’s medical care planning. The benefit to seeking an elder law attorney lies in their the crossover knowledge of many types of law that you may be affected by. Elder law attorneys are a great resource for providing information when you have a parent, spouse or loved one facing the issues of aging, but if you’re looking for more general information, there are also other resources available that you should be aware of. The internet is one of the best places to find information relating to elder law and other aging issues. These are some of our favorites:

  • The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) aims to equip its attorney members to be the premier providers of legal services to seniors and those with special
    needs. Its website, provides many resources dealing with elder law and special needs issues and provides links to other helpful websites also.
  • Elder Law Answers has guides on a variety of topics, a robust blog full of helpful articles, as well as a directory of attorneys who practice Elder Law across the country. Their website,, is another great resource for getting information on how an attorney can help as you age.
  • AARP’s website,, also contains a wealth of information about legal issues affecting seniors, including estate and long term care planning.
  • The goal of the National Care Planning Council, which has been around since 2002, is to promote a public awareness of the need for long term care planning. Their website,, contains many articles and resources on dealing with elder care and elder law.

Although these resources do not provide information specific to Louisiana, they do provide a good overview of issues that seniors should be aware of. Additionally, programs such as Medicaid and VA Aid & Attendance are federal programs so much of the information on these sites will be relevant for Louisiana residents. (Each state administers its own Medicaid program and information for Louisiana can be found at For those seeking state-specific information on aging resources, there are several that we recommend checking out:

  • The Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs ( is a state-government-run office that serves elders in a variety of ways. GOEA is committed to
    advocating for the needs and rights of the elderly, improving the quality of life for seniors, promoting public awareness, intervening in exploitation and abuse, building
    partnerships with communities, and supporting intergenerational activities. They can also be reached at (225) 342-7100.
  • The Capital Area Agency on Aging advocates and provides services to enhance the quality of life for aging adults. Their toll-free number is 1-800-833-9883 and their
    website is
  • And for those further west, the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center, Inc. (SLIC), a non-profit agency, is an agency of action, advocacy and coalition where seniors
    can become empowered to develop the skills necessary to make effective lifestyle choices. Their website is

With the amount of information out there, navigating the complexities of elder law and elder care can feel overwhelming. However, I hope this selection of valuable resources serves as a guide in your quest for information. If you or your elder loved one is thinking about planning or long-term care, we recommend reaching out to a qualified elder law attorney to dive into the specifics of your situation. (And, if you reach out this month, don’t forget to express appreciation in the spirit of celebration!)

The information provided is not intended to be legal or tax advice and does not constitute any attorney/client relationship. You should consult with an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Ms. Melancon is an attorney with Legacy Estate & Elder Law of Louisiana, LLC with offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lake Charles, LA. The primary focus of her practice is estate planning, probate, special needs planning, and elder law. For more information or to attend an upcoming estate planning seminar, call her office at (225) 744-0027.

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