Many people know that May is National Older Americans Month, but did you know it is also National Elder Law Month?
Every year since 1963, the month of May has been dedicated to recognizing the lives and achievements of older adults. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) supports this annual proclamation by increasing awareness of their work for and on behalf of seniors.
The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) is the national organization that certifies practioners of elder and special needs law. This designation is recognized by the American Bar Association. To earn the Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) designation, an attorney must demonstrate expertise in elder and special needs law, pass a rigorous examination, maintain continuing education standards, and be recognized by their peers.
Some CELA attorneys are like your Internist, meaning they look holisticly at your overall situation so they can identify and address a wide range of issues. Others are more like a Specialist, focusing on Medicaid qualification, contested guardianship, or other matters.
Some of the issues that an CELA may advise on include:
Estate Planning – including a discusion surrounding the management of assets during incapacity and upon death;
Advance Directives – including financial and medical powers of attorney and living wills;
Medicaid & VA Pension Qualification – including applying for nursing home Medicaid;
Trust Creation – including those used for Medicaid qualification, tax planning, or incapacity planning;
Tax Planning – including estate tax planning;
Special Needs Planning – including the creation of supplemental needs trusts;
Conservatorship and Guardianship – including contested matters;
Probate – from last will creation through distribution of assets.
As we recognize Older Americans Month, it’s a good idea to review your legal documents and plans. Documents should be revised any time there is a significant change in the lives of the principals, agents, or beneficiaries.
“May is National Elder Law Month” The National Law Review, May 5, 2016.