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Save the Dates for our Virtual Fall Meeting: Wednesday afternoon, 10/28 and Thursday morning, 10/29. More information to come!

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The Elder Law and Special Needs Section provides services and opportunities for involvement on issues relating to Elder Law and Special Needs Law, for members of the New York State Bar Association.  Among activities, the Section presents educational  programs and publishes materials on practice, procedure and developments to enhance the competence and skill of lawyers who practice in this field and improve their ability to deliver the most efficient and highest quality of services to their clients; prepare studies, analyses and recommendations to seek improvement in the law and procedure relating to elder law; and undertake projects to increase the understanding of senior citizens, their families and the general public concerning legal issues affecting the elderly.


Meet the Chair

Tara Pleat is chair of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of the New York State Bar Association.

She is a partner of Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC. She practices in the areas of special needs estate planning and administration, traditional estate planning and administration, long-term care planning, and elder law.

She graduated cum laude from Albany Law School with honors in the Estate Planning concentration and earned her undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Albany.

She also is an active member of the Trusts and Estates Law Section, where she serves as District Delegate for the Fourth Judicial District.  She is a member of the Special Needs Alliance, the Academy of Special Needs Planners and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

In March of 2016, Tara was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC).  ACTEC Fellows are selected on the basis of experience, professional reputation and ability in the fields of trusts and estates and on the basis of having made substantial contributions to these fields through lecturing, writing, teaching and bar activities.

Tara is a Past President of the Board of Directors of the Estate Planning Council of Eastern New York. In addition, Tara is a graduate of the 2006 class of Leadership Saratoga, sponsored by the Saratoga Springs Chamber of Commerce. Tara is a Member of the Board of Directors of AIM Services, Inc., a disability service organization based in Saratoga Springs, New York. She is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Wesley Community, a continuing care community for seniors in Saratoga Springs, New York as well serves on the Board of the Wesley Foundation.  Tara also chairs the Planned Giving Committee of the Wildwood Foundation, an organization that supports Wildwood Programs, a school for individuals with disabilities in Albany, New York. Tara is also a Member of the ARC New York’s Statewide Guardianship Committee as well as the Advisory Board of Supported Decision Making New York (SDMNY).

In the fall of 2012, Tara was appointed as an adjunct professor of law at Albany Law School, where she teaches a course in the spring semester on estate and financial planning for the elderly and individuals with special needs.

Contact the Elder Law and Special Needs Section Liaison

To learn more about this Section, please contact Lisa Bataille
(518) 487-5680

Online Community

Elder and Special Needs Law Journal slider image

Elder and Special Needs Law Journal

The Elder and Special Needs Law Journal (formerly the Elder Law Attorney) features peer written substantive articles relating to the practice of elder law on such topics as long term care, Article 81, advance directives, Medicaid, SNTs, guardianship, Social Security, tax issues, and estate planning.

The Elder and Special Needs Law Journal is published by the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of the New York State Bar Association and available to Section members only.

The Elder and Special Needs Law Journal encourages article submissions on topics of interest to members of the Section. Writing an article for a NYSBA Section publication is a great way to get your name out in the legal community and advertise your knowledge. Our authors are respected state-wide for their legal expertise in such areas as the DRA, medicaid, SNTs, grandparent’s rights, and guardianships.

MCLE credit may also be earned for legal-based writing directed to an attorney audience upon application to the CLE Board. NYSBA Guidelines for Obtaining MCLE Credit for Writing as well as a Publication Credit Application are available.

If you have written an article and would like to have it considered for publication in the Elder and Special Needs Law Journal, please send it in electronic document format (pdfs are NOT acceptable), along with biographical information to either of its Co-Editors:

Katherine Carpenter, Esq.

Patricia Shevy, Esq.





Honorable Joel K. Asarch Elder Law and Special Needs Section Scholarship

The Elder Law and Special Needs Section encourages law students, through an elder law clinic experience, to learn about important legislative developments, regulations, and case laws impacting the elderly and disabled and to provide representation to those clients struggling with a variety of legal issues and problems related to aging and incapacity.

Through the scholarship, the Section aspires to advance opportunities for the disabled by implementing a preference for awarding the scholarship to a student who demonstrates a present and permanent physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual.

The ultimate goal of the scholarship is to create a network and cultivate relationships among lawyers whose practice focuses on elder law and special needs planning and law students planning to practice in these areas to encourage the practice of elder law and special needs planning among lawyers throughout the State of New York.

Mentor Program

Elder Law and Special Needs Section Offers Opportunities for Mentoring

The Elder Law and Special Needs Section is pleased to announce it is accepting applications for the 2020 mentorship program. As in prior years, this program will pair an experienced elder law attorney with a Section member new to the practice of elder law for the coming year.  The term is for one year, commencing April 30, 2020 and ending May 1, 2021.  The mentoring program will provide

  • A one-on-one mentoring initiative matching experienced Elder Law and Special Needs attorneys with those who are newer to the practice; and
  • Opportunities to work together on section programs, reports and events that will enhance careers and the profession.

The mentoring relationships will incorporate a number of different elements, encompassing a mix of formal and more “ad hoc” opportunities for mentors and mentees to collaborate.  Section Committee Chairs are poised to welcome mentor/mentee pairs to work together on committee projects, reports, events, etc.  As for ad hoc opportunities, we look forward to seeing what pairs come up with, and to learning from one another.  We plan that there will be at least one communication per month, whether in person, by telephone or email, to keep continuity and maximize the value to the participants.


  1. You must be practicing elder law for 5 years or fewer;
  2. You must be a member in good standing of the Elder Law and Special Needs Section of NYSBA; and
  3. You must attend at least 2 Section meetings.

We are hoping to make 21 matches this year:

7 matches for Mentees living or practicing in the 1st, 2nd, 12th and 13th Judicial Districts.
7 matches for Mentees living or practicing in the 9th, 10th and 11th Judicial Districts.
7 matches for Mentees living or practicing in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Judicial Districts.

While we are hoping to accommodate as many pairings as possible, in the event we receive more requests for Mentees than we have available Mentors, selection of Mentees will be made randomly.

If you are interested in applying to be a Mentor or Mentee, please fill out the appropriate form below and email to JulieAnn Calereso (

We look forward to making this a rewarding experience for both Mentors and Mentees!


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