Older adults have a range of legal needs, including estate planning, wills, trusts, arrangements for care, social security and retirement benefits, protection against elder abuse (physical, emotional and financial).

Elder law attorneys are specially trained advocates for the elderly and their loved ones. Most elder law attorneys handle a wide range of legal matters affecting an older or disabled person, including issues related to health care, long term care planning, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and other important matters.

Elder abuse is an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult. Elder abuse can for physical, emotional, sexual or financial. 

Legal guardianship is a legal relationship between a competent adult (the guardian) and a person who because of incapacity is no longer able to take care of their own affairs (the ward). The guardian is authorized to make legal, financial, and health care decisions for the ward. Depending on the terms of the guardianship and state practices, the guardian may or may not have to seek court approval for various decisions. In many states, a person appointed only to handle finances is called a conservator.

Advance Directive Forms:

Power of Attorney for Health Care

Living Will Declaration Form

Physician's Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment

Other resources:

Prepare for Your Care, Plan Your Lifespan, and Making Your Wishes Known are all online decision aids to help individuals prepare for future medical decisions.

Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL) provides free legal services to low income older adults in Cook County, specifically on issues related to financial stability, housing, end of life planning, financial exploitation, and elder abuse.