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Elder Law Research Guide: Home


Elder Law is a legal field that encompasses many different practice areas.  These practice areas include financial planning; estate planning; major entitlement programs such as Social Security income, pension and retirement benefits, Medicare, and Medicaid; health care considerations; planning for incapacity, including living wills, durable powers of attorney, and right-to-die issues; and discrimination against the elderly. This guide is designed to  help students find the best research resources for topics in Elder Law.

Terms of Art

1. Common Terms Used in Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management (DPOA) Cal. Prob. Code §§ 4000 - 4545.

  • Agent means the same as attorney-in-fact for financial matters, i.e., the person authorized to act for another. Although the term "attorney-in-fact" is used in the Probate Code, the term "agent" is used in the statutory form DPOA.
  • Attorney-in-fact means a person granted authority to act for the principal in a power of attorney, regardless of whether the person is known as an attorney-in-fact or as an agent. This includes a successor or alternate attorney-in-fact and a person delegated authority by an attorney-in-fact.
  • Durable power of attorney means a power of attorney that can be exercised notwithstanding the principal's subsequent incapacity.
  • Durable power of attorney for financial management (DPOA) Although the term is not found in the Probate Code it is a convention some practitioners use to distinguish a power of attorney used to manage the principal's assets or to make financial or business decisions from the power of attorney for health care (PAHC) or advance health care directive (AHCD) used to make health care decisions for the principal.
  • Power of attorney means a written instrument that is executed by a natural person having the capacity to contract and that grants authority to an attorney-in-fact. A power of attorney may be durable or nondurable.
  • Principal means a natural person who executes a power of attorney.
  • Springing power of attorney means a power of attorney that by its terms becomes effective at a specified future time or on the occurrence of a specified future event or contingency, usually the subsequent incapacity of the principal. The springing power of attorney may be durable or nondurable.

2.  Common Terms Used in Advance Health Care Directives and Powers of Attorney for Health Care Cal. Prob. Code §§ 4600 - 4806.

  • Advance health care directive (AHCD) means either an individual health care instruction or a power of attorney for health care (PAHC).
  • Agent means an individual designated in a PAHC to make a health care decision for the principal, regardless of whether the person is known as an agent or attorney-in-fact, and includes any successor or alternate agent.
  • Health care decision means a decision made by a patient or the patient's agent, conservator, or surrogate regarding the patient's health care, including selection and discharge of health care providers and institutions; approval or disapproval of diagnostic tests, surgical procedures, and programs or medications; and directions to provide, withhold, or withdraw artificial nutrition and hydration and all other forms of health care, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
  • Individual health care instruction means a patient's written or oral direction concerning a health care decision for the patient.
  • Patient means an adult whose health care is under consideration and includes a principal under a PAHC and an adult who has given an individual health care instruction or designated a surrogate.
  • Power of attorney for health care (PAHC) means a written instrument designating an agent to make health care decisions for the principal.
  • Principal means an adult who executes a PAHC.
  • Surrogate means an adult, other than the patient's agent or conservator, authorized by the Health Care Decisions Law to make a health care decision for the patient.




AARP Research Center
Includes the Public Policy Institute, Surveys and Statistics, Academic Affairs

ABA Commission on Law and Aging
The mission of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging is to strengthen and secure the legal rights, dignity, autonomy, quality of life, and quality of care of elders. It carries out this mission through research, policy development, technical assistance, advocacy, education, and training. The Commission publishes a wide array of professional and consumer guides on issues in law and aging and detailed analysis of laws and policies that impact older Americans.

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform

Through direct advocacy, community education, legislation and litigation, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform’s goal is to educate and support long term care consumers and advocates regarding the rights and remedies under the law, and to create a united voice for long term care reform and humane alternatives to institutionalization.

Institute on Aging

Institute on Aging (IOA) works to enhance the quality of life for aging adults and adults living with disabilities, enabling them to maintain their health, well-being, independence and participation in the community.

Justice in Aging
Justice in Aging is a nonprofit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, Justice in Aging seeks to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources and access to the courts for all.

National Center on Law & Elder Rights

The National Center on Law and Elder Rights (NCLER) provides the legal services and aging and disability communities with the tools and resources they need to serve older adults with the greatest economic and social needs.

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