Q. What is an elder law attorney?

emilyBy Emily Donaldson, CELA, Attorney
Stevens & Brand LLP

When I tell people I am an elder law attorney, I often receive a quizzical expression in return, followed by the question, “What is an elder law attorney?” .

As a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), I have the privilege of practicing in one of the fastest growing fields in the legal profession and dedicating my time to helping seniors and those with disabilities.

Attorneys certified in elder law offer something that other attorneys do not— professional expertise in the unique needs of older, maturing populations. Not only are they authorities on legal issues affecting seniors, they are also familiar with other vital resources and services that can help meet the needs of senior citizens, including those with disabilities. As individuals grow older and their needs change, many questions need to be considered and decisions made. An elder law attorney can clarify the issues and problems they will likely face and provide them with the tools they need to be prepared.

Elder Law Attorneys help clients navigate complex issues elder care statisticssuch as:

  • Health and long-term care planning.
  • Public benefits (Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Veterans’ benefits).
  • Conservation, disposition and administration of estates (wills, trusts and probate).
  • Surrogate decision-making (powers of attorney and guardianship).
  • Establishment of the legal capacity of an older person.
  • Special needs counseling (trusts, housing, employment and education).

Dealing with issues of aging can be much less overwhelming when you are equipped with the tools and information to deal with potential problems. An elder law attorney will put the necessary documents in place, provide information about care and benefits and connect you with other professionals who serve the elder community.

The comment I hear most often from my clients after seeing me for the first time is:  “Thank you, I feel so relieved to now have accurate information and know I have a sound plan to pay for long-term care costs.”

And that gives me great professional satisfaction.