As the most recent past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) I have been involved in elder law for over thirty years, even before there was a sub-practice of estate planning called elder law. In fact, for estate planning, I recall when the primary document a client needed was a will. The required document has expanded and now includes a will, health proxy, power of attorney, a POLST form (Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment), sometimes a living will, and other various documents a client may desire, such as a cremation order, a pre-arranged burial, and the like.

Many years ago, it was also the norm that many wished to be kept alive by machines, or did not take a stand as to their preference, with many families refusing to talk about it. It was also the norm that most people were buried and not cremated. Times have changed, and the pendulum has swung the other way in many cases. I remember how my mother was ill for many years, and it was determined that all measures would be taken to keep her alive, even at the end of her life when there was absolutely no chance of recovery.