Over the last 25 years, elder law has evolved into its own specialty area of practice focused on the complex and unique issues of older people and the disabled. Attorneys who focus on elder law often advocate for the needs of clients with diminished capacity and with their family members and others tasked with acting in a fiduciary role.
Many organizations serve the needs of elder law attorneys throughout the United States including the NAELA and the NELF. The state bar or state bar association in many states have organized and maintain committees or sections for elder law attorneys.
Many elder law cases involve advocating for elderly or disabled people with diminished capacity and involve family members and other people with a fiduciary duty to that person. Elder law issues include:
The elderly are affecting by every law in the same way every person is affected by the law. However, there are certain legal issues that either affect senior disproportionately. Some of those include:
The National Elder Law Foundation is accredited by the American Bar Association in 1994 to certify lawyers as Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA). CELAs must meet stringent requirements to earn the designation, including showing at least 16 hours per week dedicated to elder law and at least 60 elder law matters in the three years prior to certification.
Attorneys must also attend at least 45 hours of continuing legal education on elder law matters. They must also submit references and pass a written exam, among other requirements. Once certified, CELAs must continue to meet certain education requirements. Today, more than 350 attorneys have earned the CELA designation. In forty-one states, Elder Law is recognized as its own specialty are of the law.
Find a Certified Elder Law Attorney.
Founded in 1987, the The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) has more than 5,000 members practicing across the United States. NAELA provides its members with quality CLE seminars, educational materials, publications and networking opportunities. This national non-profit organization helped create the National Elder Law Foundation. The organization works closely with many Chapters organized at the state level.
This article was last updated on May 1, 2016.