What is Elder Law?

What is Elder Law?

1194225_happy_oldman_1 (1)Miami Elder law is a specialty of law that addresses the rights of the elderly. It is a broad area of law that encompasses many distinct specialties. National and State Certification exams require an understanding of almost twenty areas of law. Some of these specialties are Public Benefits (e.g. Medicaid, Medicare, SSI and VA), Guardianship, Probate, Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, and Elder Abuse. Many specialties  such as Social Security, Special Needs Trusts, and Guardianship also affect the disabled who are not necessarily elderly. In those cases, elder law attorneys have specific knowledge of public benefits and other overlapping areas of law.

Public Benefits is a sensitive field determined in large part by governmental economic forces. Dealing with public benefits is the most important characteristic of an Elder Law attorney and distinguishes him or her from a traditional Estate Planning attorney. As the cost of long term care, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or a nursing home, rises each year, those who do not possess large savings or adequate long term care insurance will require Medicaid to pay their care. Since Medicaid rules are complex and constantly changing, Elder Law attorneys are needed now more than ever and will be necessary in the future to help people plan for long term care, as the population attains higher ages.


There are many ways to find an Elder Law attorney. The Florida Bar lists those attorneys who are Board Certified in Elder Law. This informs the public about which attorneys have passed a comprehensive written examination covering nineteen areas of Elder Law, including peer review. In addition, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, through the National Elder Law Foundation, administers the Certification in Elder Law known as a CELA. This national certification also requires a written examination, as well as peer review. A list of all attorneys in Florida who are board certified in Elder Law can be found atFlabar.org., and a list of CELA’s can be found at NELF.org.

In addition to state and national certification in Elder Law, attorneys who serve in leadership positions, such as Chair of the Elder Law Section of The Florida Bar, or publish articles on various Elder Law subjects indicate their commitment to the practice of Elder Law.

When you speak to an Elder Law attorney, sometimes referred to by the lay public as an Elder Care attorney, ask the following two questions: How much of your practice is devoted to Elder Law? The answer here demonstrates how current the attorney may be on the problem you need resolved. Which specific areas of Elder Law does the attorney specialize in? This is the most important question, since Elder Law is a broad practice area.

In conclusion, research the qualifications of the Elder Law attorney you plan to hire to be sure he or she is the right fit for your situation. Does the Elder Law attorney possess the requisite skills and education to complete the task you are hiring him or her to do?

For more information on how to find a Miami Elder Law attorney, call our office and speak to one of our attorneys.