What is Elder Law?

Written by Collett P. Small, Esquire on . Posted in Elder Law

As a practicing Elder Law attorney, I am frequently asked, "What is Elder Law?"

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) defines Elder Law as a specialized area of legal practice which involves representing, counseling and assisting seniors, people with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for individuals. Typically, Elder Law addresses the combination of legal needs with the social, psychological, medical and financial needs of individuals. The Elder Law attorney handles estate planning and counsels clients about planning for incapacity with health care decision-making documents. The Elder Law attorney also assists clients in planning for possible long-term care needs, including at-home care, assisted living or nursing home care. Locating the appropriate type of care, coordinating public and private resources to finance the cost of care and working to ensure the client's right to quality care are all part of the Elder and Special Needs Law practice.

When clients visit an Elder Law attorney, they generally present problems beyond the need for a will or a power of attorney. Elder Law attorneys are familiar with the network of services and providers who assist clients effectively. Elder Law attorneys must constantly monitor the ever-changing statutes and regulations to which older adults are beholden for their daily existence. Unlike traditional lawyers, Elder Law attorneys deal with their clients "holistically" — helping with the issues that affect a particular segment of the population rather than a narrow area of law.

NAELA President Gregory S. French, CELA, CAP, called on all NAELA members to participate, either individually or collectively, to promote the mission of NAELA – to establish its members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance, and services which enhance the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. There is no better time to consult with an experienced Elder Law attorney regarding any elder law related issues which you or your loved ones may be facing.