The elderly population is growing by leaps and bounds in the United States. By 2050, experts tell us that the number of older Americans (over age 65) will outnumber their younger counterparts (under age 21) for the first time in recorded history. The increase in the elderly population has led to an increase in the need for services catering to the elderly, including legal services. While older individuals face many of the same legal issues that younger people do, they also have some unique legal needs and concerns. With this in mind, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, or NAELA, was formed in the late 1980s as a way to better serve this growing segment of the population.
Just five years after NAELA was created, the National Elder Law Foundation, or NELF, was formed. The non-profit NELF was created to help improve the professional skills of attorneys who choose to focus on elder law. NELF then developed a national certification program for attorneys as a way to ensure that attorneys had the skills and education necessary to address the legal problems of the elderly. The program is known as the Certified Elder Law Attorney, or CELA, program. The American Bar Association endorsed the certification program the year after the first CELA examination was given in 1994.
Qualifying for CELA certification is a rigorous process that includes both peer recommendation and testing. Just to be considered for CELA status an attorney must be in good standing, have substantial involvement in the practice of Elder Law, take 15 hours of continuing legal education in Elder Law each year, and submit to peer review. In addition, an attorney must successfully pass a comprehensive written examination. The examination itself only has a 60 percent pass rate, indicating how difficult the examination is even for experienced attorneys. Once certified, a CELA must submit to a re-certification process every five years.
If you are in need of an elder law attorney, either for yourself or because you are a caregiver for an elderly family member or loved one, it only makes sense to look for an attorney who focuses on elder law issues. Only an attorney who works with elderly clients on a regular basis can truly understand some of the unique legal issues the elderly face and be prepared to offer viable solutions for those problems.
If you are looking for an elder law attorney in Missouri, contact the experienced Missouri elder law attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment.