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Jun 2024

What is Elder Law?

By Kavya Vurrabindi and Elikem Deley

Elder Law is most commonly known as the practice of law which aims to address legal issues faced by the older adult population.

The broad field of Elder Law covers legal counseling and advice for the elder population in areas including but not limited to elder abuse, guardianship proceedings, wills and estates planning, health and long-term care, retirement and pension planning, financial planning and security, as well as legal capacity. Legal issues faced by the elderly population arise in almost all areas of legal practice; however, most commonly in real estate law, family law, human rights law, and wills and estates law.

Major Issues Facing the Elderly Population Today

There are significant issues facing the elderly population today which may require legal advice and assistance, some of which include:

1. Elder Abuse

 Elder abuse occurs when harm is done to an elderly person by another individual in a significant relationship with the elderly person and can include: financial abuse, physical and/or sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect.  Elder abuse can at times be considered a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada and litigation may be pursued.

2. Housing and Long-Term Care Planning

 Elder citizens can face issues in obtaining housing in long-term care facilities, as well as issues related to their rights while residing in such long-term care facilities, or hospitals or personal residences.  

They may also need assistance with navigating the different forms of financial assistance available.

3. Ageism and Age Discrimination

 Ageism and age discrimination Involves treating those of an older age in an inequitable way contrary to human rights law as a result of negative and inaccurate public stereotypes

Legal assistance can be sought to reinforce the individual rights of elderly persons in matters including employment, housing, and contracts.

4. Wills, Estates and Power of Attorney Planning

 Senior Citizens can also face a myriad issues or conflict in transferring their wealth and assets to succeeding generations. Having the proper estate planning documentation in place and getting the right legal advice can both protect the client and help make the transition of wealth smooth.

5. Legal Incapacity and Elderly Guardianship

 Guardianship is a legal relationship formed when a court appoints an individual to care for a person where that person is incapable. The question of capacity is situation-specific and complicated. A person’s age and medical diagnosis does not make them incapable. Providing an elderly client with advice about their rights as it relates to their capacity can prevent them from being manipulated or taken advantage of.

6. Predatory Marriage

 A predatory marriage is when one party in a marriage may be incapable of consenting to the marriage, or is vulnerable and the other party may be manipulating the person for access to their assets and for financial gain.  Elder Law focuses on providing support and advice for elderly persons who may be victims of financial exploitation in marriage

7. Consumer Protection and Financial Scams

 Advice can be sought to reinforce the rights of elderly persons in cases of unfair business practices or who may have fallen victim to financial scams. In certain circumstances, litigation may be pursued.

The above-listed matters are some (but by no means all) of the most predominant issues senior citizens are facing today which the field of Elder Law focuses on addressing. If you require assistance in navigating any related issues or simply have questions, we encourage you to contact one of our qualified lawyers at SorbaraLAW.