Cruising Through Caregiving’s Lighthouse Spotlight: Evan Farr, CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney)

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lighthouseCruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One (available September 27, 2016— features the insight of 24 seasoned multidisciplinary professionals in elder services, gerontology and geriatrics. Each month Jenerations will post a blog featuring one of the 24 expert interviewees featured in Cruising Through Caregiving: Reducing The Stress of Caring For Your Loved One.

Evan FarrThis month’s Lighthouse Spotlight is on Evan Farr, CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney). Evan Farr is the founder of the Farr Law Firm ( with locations in Virginia, Washington, D.C and Maryland. Farr completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and law school at the College of William & Mary Law School. He is also the author of several best-selling books including The Nursing Home Survival Guide.

I recommend elder law attorneys regularly. Why? If older adults possess any assets (e.g. own a home), an elder law attorney can often help them prevent costly financial and legal headaches for both themselves and their families. While I am constantly recommending elder law attorneys, older persons and their family members are often reluctant to meet with one. Here are some of the most common reasons older adults and their families cite for not seeing an elder law attorney:

1) They think it will be confusing and overwhelming.
2) They worry it will be too expensive.
3) They are afraid that if they discuss end of life planning or death, they will die.

Here’s how I respond to such concerns:

1) You know what’s confusing and overwhelming? Trying to read Medicaid law, understand it and complete an application properly. Evan Farr shares on his website the following quote about Medicaid: “The United States Supreme Court has called the Medicaid laws “an aggravated assault on the English language, resistant to attempts to understand it.” Schweiker v. Gray Panthers, 453 U.S. 34, 43 (1981).”

2) You know what’s too expensive? When you have assets (like a home), sell it, spend all your money and then apply for Medicaid. That’s typically not best practice for how a homeowner should approach a Medicaid application when nursing home care is needed. An experienced elder law attorney like Evan Farr can help you prevent such a mistake. Often spending some money on the services of an experienced elder law attorney will ultimately save you money.

3) You will die. We all will. But there’s no evidence that legally and financially preparing for end of life hastens your death.

Stating your wishes about how you want to die and who will inherit your estate will reduce stress for those who love you. Arguments, rifts and even long-term estrangements can occur when families have to guess what sort of treatment you want—or don’t want– when you are dying. Even the most well-meaning loved ones will have conflicting ideas of “what’s best” for you under such circumstances. An experienced elder law attorney like Evan Farr can help you express your wishes.

One of the most important things I have learned from Evan Farr is that any lawyer can identify as an “elder law attorney.” So how do you increase the chance that you are working with someone who truly is an expert in elder law? A good sign is when the attorney possesses the CELA (Certified Elder Law Attorney) credential, described by NELF (National Elder Law Foundation) as “ ‘the gold standard’ for elder law and special needs practitioners.”

To find an elder law attorney who holds the CELA, search here: To learn more about Evan Farr and his firm check out Evan Farr also conducts no-cost monthly educational seminars for the public at his Fairfax office, which I would highly encourage you to attend. You can find his upcoming schedule and sign up online at

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