No matter the reason, hiring an attorney usually means you’re dealing with a stressful situation.
Maybe it’s an emergency: You’ve been charged with a crime, or you and the company you own has been sued for wrongdoing.
Or maybe you’re planning for the future, creating a will, setting up a power of attorney, which can be a different type of stressful: it’s forcing you to contend with literal matters of life and death.
It’s in situations like these that you’d be best served by seeking out the services of a Doylestown, PA elder law attorney.
What is an elder law attorney?
An elder law attorney is a lawyer who had devoted their career to advocating for senior citizens and their families.
“It’s a holistic approach,” says Garrett Gummer, a Doylestown, PA elder law attorney. “You need to understand taxes, Medicaid planning, estate planning.”
But how do you know which elder law attorney is right for you. Start by asking this question: Are they a certified elder law attorney?
How does a CELA become certified?
Having a CELA designation distinguishes the level of training of the elder law attorney.
But he compares it to getting a special certification in a medical field; the fact that someone has it proves they’ve put in a lot of work.
“It’s not an easy thing to do. You really have to put your mind to it,” Gummer says.
CELAs need to have at least five years of practice under their belts, with at least half of their practice focusing on elder law cases or special needs clients for three of those five years.
From there, they need to take a day-long certification exam.
“It’s just like the bar exam,” says Gummer. “It’s very comprehensive and the pass rate is quite low.”
Only about 35 percent of attorneys who take the exam pass, he says.
They also need recommendations from three other attorneys, who can attest to their reputation for ethical, competent representation in elder law cases.
The attorneys themselves need to show “substantial involvement” – as the National Elder Law Foundation puts it – in elder law and/or special needs practice.
Once an attorney receives CELA certification, they need to recertify every five years. As you might suspect, there aren’t many people who can call themselves CELAs.
“There are less than 60 in in Pennsylvania,” Gummer says. “When I achieved CELA status, there were 22. That is not a lot, since in the general Philadelphia area, there are thousands of attorneys
How can an elder law attorney help me?
There are a few different reasons why you might seek an elder law attorney, including:
- Creating a will – Having a will in place before you die ensures that you can provide for your loved ones after you’re gone.
- Powers of attorney – These documents allow someone you trust to manage your affairs in case you become incapacitated.
- Guardianships – If a senior becomes incapacitated before they set up a power of attorney, an elder law attorney can help appoint a guardian to manage their affairs.
- Medicaid planning – An elder law attorney can help you protect your assets as you work to get Medicaid funding to pay for nursing care.
Are you searching for an elder law attorney in Doylestown, PA? Contact Gummer Elder Law. Whether you need the services we described above or want to establish a trust or a living will, our attorneys can make sure you and your family are protected.