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May Celebrates Older Americans and the Elder Law Attorneys Who Serve Them

The spotlight in May is on older Americans and the elder law attorneys who help them navigate some of life's most difficult challenges.

Did you know that May is a month when our nation celebrates the contributions of Americans aged 65 and up? Americans have been doing this each May since President Kennedy made the official declaration in 1963. To show its support, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the most prestigious association of attorneys that specialize in elder law, declared May to be National Elder Law Month.


Why does elder law matter? With the population of Americans aged 65 and older growing at an unprecedented rate, it is more important than ever to plan for the legal, health, and financial issues that affect older adults and their families.


Unlike traditional attorneys, elder law attorneys focus on working with their clients “holistically” — helping with the issues that affect a particular segment of the population rather than a particular area of law.


When clients visit an elder law attorney, they generally present issues beyond the need for a will or a power of attorney. Elder law attorneys are familiar with the unique and multifaceted aspects of this complex area of law, as well as a network of services and providers who can effectively assist clients.


The people elder law attorneys most often serve face a unique set of legal, financial, and personal problems, many of which are caused by failing health. Elder law gives clients a way to solve these problems. Elder law attorneys provide a wide range of services including estate and trust administration, asset protection, conservatorships, Medicaid planning and application, elder abuse and exploitation, and special needs planning.


Some elder law attorneys will advise on all these issues, while others will choose to specialize in just a few. Even lawyers who limit their practice to elder law may not be experts in all these areas. Therefore, it is vital to do your due diligence in finding the elder law attorney that is the right fit for your needs.


It is also important to note that not all elder law attorneys have the same credentials. You may want to consider finding a certified elder law attorney, frequently referred to as “the gold standard” for elder law. A certified specialist in elder law is an attorney who has received specific training in elder law issues, has practiced in that field for five years, and has been certified as highly qualified in elder law by their State Bar or by another accrediting organization. They will have the CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney) after their names. The process for achieving this distinction is a rigorous one. In addition to other requirements, CELA applicants must take an extensive, all-day exam. Recent pass rates have been below 50% — and that is of applicants who have already met the experience requirements. There are about 525 certified elder law attorneys in the country and at the time of this article, only 16 in the state of Tennessee. One of them is our very own Barbara McGinnis.

Johnson McGinnis Elder Care Law & Estate Planning has specialized in elder law for more than three decades. Our entire legal team is constantly monitoring the ever-changing statutes and regulations to which older adults are beholden for their daily existence. We also offer representation over time, which is a welcome relief for families caring for loved ones on the long-term care journey.


Elder law attorneys throughout the country are observing National Elder Law Month by providing educational activities that will benefit the community. Johnson McGinnis Elder Care Law & Estate Planning is offering free educational presentations to any group or organization in Middle Tennessee. To schedule an educational presentation for your group, contact Dana Hentschel at 615.824.2571.



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