The National Association of Elder law Attorney’s (NAELA) has been celebrating “Special Needs Law Month” this October. Across the country, my fellow NAELA members have been hosting special living will days, public seminars, Special Needs Law clinics, and other activities designed to educate the public.
Special events are important, but I would like to simply define what we mean by Special Needs Law so that you can better understand why it merits an entire month of activities.
What Is Special Needs Law?
Special Needs Law is a specialized area of law that involves representing, counseling, and assisting people with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, from disability planning to mental health, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for the individuals. Typically, Special Needs Law attorneys address the client’s perspective from a holistic viewpoint by discussing legal, medical, financial, social, and family issues.
Demand for Special Needs Law Is Growing
“About one in every five people in the United States has a disability. Some people are born with a disability. Some get sick or have an accident that results in a disability. Some people develop disabilities as they age. Almost all of us will have a disability at some point.” – Surgeon General (MedlinePlus, Disabilities)
As a result, the need is growing for specialized legal advice about special needs-related issues. I consider it an honor to include Special Needs Law as a focus of my legal practice. Many of the issues faced are similar to those of the aging. In fact, the phrase “long-term life planning” is what we focus on for everyone, the individuals and their families.
What are the Issues Addressed in Special Needs Law?
As a Special Needs Law attorney, I provide experienced legal advice for areas including:
About the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
Established in 1987, NAELA is a nonprofit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations and others. Members of NAELA are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. The mission of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is to establish NAELA members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age. NAELA currently has more than 4,500 members across the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
"In October 2009, my fiancé (and future wife) and I wanted to have estate documents prepared. Upon the recommendation of friends, we contacted an elder law firm in Sarasota, FL. We were assigned to Teresa K. Bowman, an estate planning and elder law attorney. Over the course of several months, she helped us to develop and refine our documents to our exact specifications and requirements, with our complete satisfaction. During the next few years, various modifications to our documents were required, and she helped us to implement these changes, always with absolute professionalism and precision, and with a warm, friendly manner. Incidentally, Teresa Bowman, serving in the role of Justice of the Peace, presided over our wedding ceremony in May, 2010. It was the first wedding ceremony she had ever performed, so we trust that it is just as memorable an event for her as it was for us. In 2014, when Teresa Bowman established her own Estate Planning and Elder Law practice, we, of course, transferred our accounts to her new firm. She has since implemented additional modifications to our estate documents, with the same high level of service that we have come to expect and appreciate. We would have absolutely no reservations in recommending Teresa Bowman and her firm to anyone who has need of the services she renders." - Robert G. and Judith L. Hores