Attorneys certified in elder law offer something that other attorneys do not:  professional expertise in the unique needs of older, maturing populations and those people with disabilities. A Certified Elder Law Attorney (also called a “CELA”) is not just an authority on legal issues affecting seniors, he or she is also familiar with other vital resources and services – both public and private – that can help meet the needs of senior citizens, including those with disabilities.

Elder law attorneys are certified by the Board of Certification of the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF), a nonprofit organization founded in 1993. NELF is dedicated to developing and improving the professional competence of lawyers in the focused area of elder law and special needs. NELF’s Elder Law Certification Program is the only elder law program accredited by the American Bar Association.

The certification program identifies those lawyers who have the specialized knowledge, skills, experience and proficiency to resolve issues that affect older and disabled people. With professional expertise in the following areas, a CELA is your best choice for important issues facing older and disabled Americans, such as:

  • Health and long-term care planning.
  • Public benefits (such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Veterans’ benefits).
  • Conservation, disposition and administration of estates (including 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).

An elder law attorney must be fully aware of the applicable tax consequences of any action, or will recommend the need for more sophisticated tax expertise if needed.

NELF has recently published a new brochure explaining why hiring a CELA is so important when specialized knowledge in the areas of elder law and special needs planning is required. The new brochure can be found here –  NELF CELA Brochure