E. Bonnie Marshall, is a Certified Elder Law Attorney, certified by the National Elder Law Foundation and accredited by the ABA

A quick glance through the "attorney" section of the yellow page directory of any major metropolitan area will make it clear that many lawyers specialize in one or more kinds of legal matters. Lawyers who are certified as specialists have been recognized by independent professional certifying organizations as having an enhanced level of skill, as well as substantial involvement in established legal specialty areas. Certifying organizations require lawyers to demonstrate special training, experience and knowledge.

For some time now some attorneys have called themselves Elder Law attorneys; however, there has thus far been no way for the consumer to really know what subjects a particular elder law attorney knew. The term meant different things to different attorneys.

To remedy that situation, Elder law attorneys may now be certified in this field by the Board of Certification of the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF), a non-profit organization founded in 1993, and dedicated to the development and improvement of the professional competence of lawyers in the area of elder law. The purpose of the certification program is to identify those lawyers who have the enhanced knowledge, skills, experience and proficiency to be properly identified to the public as certified Elder Law attorneys.

What Must A Certified Elder Law Attorney Know?

  • Health and long-term care planning.
  • Public benefits (includes Medi-Cal/Medicaid Medicare, Social Security)
  • Surrogate decision-making (includes powers of attorney)
  • Older persons' legal capacity
  • Conservation, disposition and administration of the older person's estate (includes wills, trust and probate of an estate)
  • In advising about these matters the Elder Law attorney must pay attention to the applicable tax consequences of the action, or the need for more . sophisticated tax expertise. In addition, the Board expects attorneys certified in Elder Law to be capable of recognizing issues of concern that arise during counseling and representation with respect to: abuse, neglect, or exploit the older person, insurance, housing, and long-term care

    As one can see, the Board of Certification seeks to identify attorneys who will be able to determine all the client's needs and either take care of them, or refer the client to someone who can.