Elder Law

Elder Law is the counseling & representing of the elderly, disabled, their families and advocates about healthcare, long-term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision making, legal capacity, and the disposition & administration of estates.

Elder Law Includes:

  • Estate planning
  • Estate & trust administration
  • Advance medical directives: living wills, medical powers of attorney & organ donation
  • Disability planning: powers of attorney
  • Medicaid & asset protection planning
  • Planning & paying for long-term care with insurance
  • Trusts: revocable living, life insurance, special needs, testamentary & charitable trusts
  • Guardianships, conservatorships and representative payees
  • Bill paying and care management assistance
  • Housing options: at home, adult day care, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, hospice care and continuing care retirement communities
  • Tax planning and tax return preparation.

Why Elder Law Now?

In the late 1980’s the legal profession realized that it was not properly training its members to assist persons over the age of 65. To address this situation, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) was formed in 1988 to provide a broad education for attorneys to permit them to represent senior citizens, to define Elder Law and to seek accreditation of Elder Law as a specialty from the American Bar Association. NAELA founded the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF), a nonprofit organization. In 1995, the ABA accredited the legal specialty of Elder Law.

Did You Know?

  • The US population over age 65 is expected to increase from 12.4% in 2000 to 19.6% in 2030.
  • The number of persons over age 65 is expected to grow from 35 million in 2000 to 71 million in 2030.
  • The number of people over age 80 is expected to increase from 9.3 million in 2000 to 19.5 million in 2030.
  • In 2003, the average life expectancy is 76.
  • The worldwide life expectancy should grow by an additional 10 years by 2050.
  • The Wall Street Journal has reported that the cost of long term nursing home care is rising at 4 times the rate of inflation!
  • The average per day cost of a private room in a nursing home is approximately $181 which equals $66,152 annually.
  • The average stay in a nursing home is 2.4 years, therefore, the average cost is $158,766 for a private room.

Why do you need help with your loved one’s financial and long term care planning?

“There can be no doubt that the statutes and provisions in question, involving the financing of Medicare and Medicaid, are among the most completely impenetrable texts within human experience. Indeed, one approaches them at the level of specificity herein demanded with dread, for not only are they dense reading of the most tortuous kind, but Congress also revisits the area frequently, generously cutting and pruning in the process and making any solid grasp of the matters addressed merely a passing phase.”  Rehabilitation Association of Virginia, Inc. v. Bruce U. Kozlowski  (1994).

Matthew C. Sunderlin’s Publications

Managing Incapacity” – Virginia Elder Law Handbook – Virginia CLE – Published in 2011  

Planning for Incapacity” – Elder Law Basics – Virginia CLE – Published in 2007

Client Questionnaires

Estate Planning for Singles

Estate Planning for a Married Couple

Financial and Long-term Care Planning for a Married Couple

Financial and Long-term Care Planning for Singles

Guardianship and Conservatorship

Helpful Links to Elder Law and Senior Web Sites

Alzheimer’s Association – Central and Western Virginia Chapter

American Association of Retired Persons 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

ElderLaw Answers

HELP – Helping People Meet Age-Related Legal and Care Challenges

Medicare Rights Center

National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

National Care Planning Council

National Elder Law Foundation

Senior Navigator

Social Security Administration

Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys

Virginia Bar Association — Elder Law Section

Virginia Department for the Aging

Virginia Guardianship Association

Virginia Medical Assistance Programs