We are often asked What is elder law? While the definition of “elderly” is the subject of some debate, the most common defining point is someone who is 65 years or older, as that is when federal Medicare benefits begin. Elder Law, much like “Family Law” or “Employment Law” is an umbrella term for a broad-based area of law.  For Elder Law attorneys, this consists of multiple areas of practice that relate to older adults, individuals with disabilities, and those who care for seniors and disabled individuals, including:

  • Health Care and Legal Capacity
  • Public Benefits (e.g. Medicaid and SSI)
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Long Term Care
  • Asset Protection and Nursing Home Planning
  • Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney
  • Probate and Trust Settlements
  • Guardianship and Conservatorship

The term Elder Law can be somewhat confusing because most Elder Law Attorneys also focus on solving legal problems for individuals with special needs, regardless of age.

The National Elder Law Foundation (NELF) defines Elder Law as follows:

“Elder Law” is the legal practice of counseling and representing older persons and persons with special needs, and their representatives about the legal aspects of health and long-term care planning, public benefits, surrogate decision-making, legal capacity, the conservation, disposition and administration of estates and the implementation of their decisions concerning such matters, giving due consideration to the applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more sophisticated tax expertise.”

NELF is the American Bar Association-approved agency that certifies attorneys as a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA). There are less than 15 CELAs in the state of Wisconsin. To become a CELA one must have enhanced knowledge, skills, experience, and proficiency in the field of elder law. The attorney must complete an exam and be certified by the National Elder Law Foundation Board. Attorneys must complete 75 hours of continuing education in the elder law field every five years.

If you or a family member require an elder law or special needs law attorney please contact our office.