The Present, Past and Future of Elder Law

For obvious reasons, I interact with a lot of people who are looking for an “elder law” attorney. The label seems to have caught on. So I will take this opportunity to explain what I understand “elder law” to be, look back at where it came from, and look ahead to where it may be going.

A young but growing specialty

Elder law is a specialized area of legal work that involves traditional estate planning, but focuses more particularly on issues that clients face as they age, and especially legal issues associated with the late stages of life, such as long-term care planning, surrogate decision-making and end-of-life care.

This is a young practice area, probably no more than 30 years old. The founding of the National Academy ofAttorneys in 1987 probably provides the best marker for its start.