What is Elder Law?
More than 20 years ago, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) began. Its primary purpose was to improve the quality of legal services provided to seniors and individuals with special needs. Since that time, NAELA has grown to over 4,000 members and each State Bar, including Michigan’s, now has an Elder Law section. Despite more than 20 years as a recognized legal specialty, most people still do not know exactly what is elder law. In fact, I am often asked what it is that I do as an elder law attorney. When most people hear the phrase “elder law”, generally what comes to mind is something to do primarily with seniors, like Medicare or Social Security. This however, does not define the true nature of an elder law practice or the variety of legal issues that elderly clients often face. While it is true that elder law is defined by the senior clients being served. Elder law actually involves a variety of legal issues that many people face throughout their lifetimes, such as estate planning, special needs planning, guardianship, conservatorship, housing, public benefits (Veterans, Medicare or Medicaid) and powers of attorney. In other words, an elder law attorney handles a wide range of legal issues but has a very specific type of client—seniors.
Why Are You an Elder Law Attorney?
When I graduated from law school in 1992, I wish I had known about elder law and how much I would enjoy serving the needs of my senior clients. Truth be told, at that time I didn’t have a very good idea what type of law I was best suited for. After working for a litigation firm for a few years, I realized my future in the legal profession was not in litigation. After my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and our family dealt with it as best as we could, a variety of issues, including conservatorship, housing and Medicaid, I knew I needed to make a career change. Gradually, I began to focus on estate planning and over time, that focus also included elder law. I soon came to realize that working with seniors was extremely fulfilling for me. I was blessed to have found a specialty that I enjoy and also allowed me to help others. In 2003, The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm was opened and has focused exclusively on serving the legal needs of the elderly. Since that time, I have been blessed to help thousands of clients with their elder law needs.