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Elder Law Basics

What makes elder law unique?

Elder law is the only area of law defined by the clients we serve rather than the areas of law in which we practice. We like to deal "holistically" with our clients in talking about long-term planning for health care, long-term care, and financial viability, family dynamics, healthcare and long-term care decisions, personal values, and personal preferences.

Why is elder law so important?


It's is one of the fastest growing areas of law, which should come as no surprise. With 80 million baby boomers moving into their "golden years," and one person attaining age 50 every seven seconds, there is a great demand for information. In addition, many of the entitlements, such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and "healthcare reform," are being driven at the federal level. It takes an attorney committed to practice primarily in this area of law to stay on top of the most current changes in legislation.


What is a Certified Elder Law Attorney? 


Elder Law is a legal specialty which has been formally recognized by a few states, including Tennessee.

The American Bar Association has approved the certification and testing program established by the National Elder Law Foundation. In August 1995, specialization in Elder Law was approved by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The National Elder Law Foundation is the only certifying organization recognized by the Tennessee Supreme Court in the field of Elder Law.

To apply for certification, an attorney must have been practicing Elder Law for at least five years. The attorney must have handled a certain minimum number of cases in the practice areas that make up Elder Law. The attorney must have taken 45 hours of continuing legal education in Elder Law in the three years preceding the application. The attorney must also take a one-day written exam and provide names of at least five references who are familiar with the attorney's work in the area of Elder Law, at least three of whom must be Elder Law attorneys.


Certified Elder Law Attorneys must also be recertified every five years.


The Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization (CLE) does not independently test applicants for certification. For example, to become certified by the Commission as an Elder Law Specialist, a lawyer is not tested on his or her knowledge of or experience in the practice of Tennessee elder law. Instead, the lawyer must prove that he or she has been certified by an approved certification organization such as the National Elder Law Foundation, have malpractice coverage, pay a fee and meet a few other requirements that are common to all specialties recognized by the Commission. Click on the link to learn more about the Tennessee Commission on CLE.


What is the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys? 


The practice of elder law came into its own in 1988 when a group of attorneys formed the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a professional association concerned with improving the availability and delivery of legal services to older persons. There are now more than 4,000 NAELA members in every state of the United States. CLICK HERE to learn more about the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law at (615) 824-2571

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