What is Certified Elder Law Attorney? From National Elder Law Foundation

A Certified Elder Law Attorney (also known as a “CELA”) is an elder law attorney who has been certified by the Board of Certification of the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). NELF’s Elder Law Certification Program is the only elder law program accredited by the American Bar Association.

A Certified Elder Law Attorney is more than just an attorney who specializes in the field of elder law. CELAs are committed, through certification, to maintaining and improving their proficiency with continual practice and continuing legal education. Becoming certified in elder law validates a lawyer’s specialty to handle issues that affect senior citizens. A CELA is in a unique position to serve the interests of older, maturing populations by having met comprehensive and strict requirements. He or she must:

  • Be licensed to practice law in at least one state or the District of Columbia
  • Be actively practicing law and must have practiced law for at least five years prior to applying for certification
  • Be a member in good standing of the Bar Associations in all places where he/she is licensed
  • Have spent an average of at least 16 hours a week practicing elder law during the three years preceding the application for certification. The attorney must also have handled at least 60 elder law matters during those three years with a specified distribution among a wide variety of topics
  • Have participated in at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in elder law during the three years preceding the application
  • Be favorably evaluated by five elder law attorney specialists
  • Pass a one time full-day certification examination
  • Repeat a similar elder law certification process every five years

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. Attorneys certified in elder law will also readily recognize areas of concern that may arise during counseling and representation relating to the following issues:

  • Abuse, neglect or exploitation of an older or disabled person
  • Insurance
  • Housing
  • Long-term care
  • Employment
  • Retirement

Why you should work with a Certified Elder Law Attorney

With professional expertise in the following areas, a CELA is your best choice for important issues facing older 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)

To learn more about NELF and the CELA program, visit www.nelf.org.