OWM Blog – Elder Law and Special Needs Planning

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) defines elder law by the client to be served, rather than by the type of law practiced by the attorney. In other words, a lawyer who practices in the area of elder law has a specific type of client, seniors and clients (young and old) that have a disability. Elder Law is the legal practice of counseling and representing older person as well as persons that have a disability, their representatives and families. Elder Law includes health and long-term planning, guidance on public benefits, legal capacity, estate planning, and administration of trusts and estates. Legal problems that affect the elderly and persons that have a disability are growing in number, and becoming more complex. Moreover, a single action taken by a senior citizen or person that has a disability can have unwanted and unintended legal effects if consultation with an elder law attorney is not undertaken.

The Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) designation has frequently been referred to as “the gold standard” for elder law and special needs attorneys. This designation represents the hard work and the production of evidence that is required before an attorney can proudly declare that he or she holds the valued designation. As of the date of this article there are only fifty-six attorneys in the state of Pennsylvania that hold the CELA designation.

OWM Law is pleased to have two elder law attorneys that hold the CELA certification, Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esquire and Kathleen M. Martin, Esquire. Both Attorney Hobbs and Attorney Martin see clients in our Pottstown and Phoenixville offices. The CELA certification program is administered by The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). CELAs must demonstrate that they have practiced law for at least five (5) years, with three (3) of the most recent years of practice being focused in the area of elder law and special needs planning. Additionally, a CELA must pass a rigorous full-day examination, undergo a review by peers and colleagues, and demonstrate that their law practice is actually focused on special needs and elder law. Once certified, a CELA must continue to practice primarily in elder law and special needs planning, and complete continuing education credits specifically targeted to advanced attorneys in these areas. Most of the leading figures in the elder law and special needs field today hold the CELA certification. NAELA has an published article titled, The Top 6 Reasons to Hire an Elder Law Attorney. You can read the article by clicking the blue hyperlink and find out more information on the importance of working with an elder law attorney.

Written by Rebecca A. Hobbs, Esquire, CELA*

*Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.