MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Growing old is a challenging and difficult transition, not just for the person who’s doing the growing, but also for the family members who provide the assistance and care.
About 30 years ago, elder law emerged as the legal discipline that addresses such challenges. For family members who face long-term medical care or hospitalization, the needs can be dire. Understanding and mapping out how Medicare and Medicaid pay for health care is a fundamental part of elder law and the knowledge base of the professionals at the Sloan & Feller law firm.
Alan Feller, managing partner for the Mahopac-based firm, was attending Brooklyn Law School back in the ‘90s when elder care was first beginning to develop as a legal discipline.
“You could have real conversations with families about their needs,” he said. “My grandfather passed away around that time—1996—and I realized this was the profession that really hit home for me.”
Feller grew up in New City in neighboring Rockland County and received his bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany. After graduating Brooklyn Law School, he joined elder-care attorney Leslie Sloan in New York City, who would eventually become his partner in Sloan & Feller. She has since retired, but Feller is dedicated to keeping her name on the shingle.
“She bought a house up in Brewster and it reminded me of what Rockland County was when I was young,” he said. “So, when I got married, we moved the practice from Manhattan up to Mahopac. That was many years ago. When you grow up in the Hudson Valley, it’s hard to beat.”
Feller said that it is important for families to be proactive when it comes to issues such as elder care; it’s something that impacts every family eventually and they should be prepared.
“Most people don’t think it applies to them,” he said. “They think they’re not eligible for Medicaid, but an individual can be eligible for home care with the right guidance. It has no penalty period; they don’t have to lose a significant chunk of their resources to receive these benefits. It is better to have things in place and be proactive.”
Sloan & Feller can help families do just that.
“We have a lot of experience,” Feller said. “We use a team approach as opposed to just an individual attorney. We have a support staff that includes a social worker. We have specialization all throughout the firm that can handle any situation that might pop up. We all live close by and have a vested interest in the community.”
Feller regularly lectures on elder law issues for senior groups, senior living facilities, financial institutions, bar associations and health organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association and ALS Association.
As an active member of the New York State Bar Association, the firm stays on the cutting edge of changes in New York law that affects its clients.
Sloan & Feller also specializes in estate planning, which can be an integral part of elder law. The fruits of a 40-year working life can be undone with a few poor planning decisions, Feller notes. His firm examines tax consequences, long-term healthcare costs, relevant financial liabilities and family dynamics to construct and maintain a client’s estate plan.
Another facet of the law firm is its work helping local businesses plan and grow.
“Since the founding of Sloan & Feller, our business advisement practice has been a source of pleasure and appreciation,” Feller said. “We work with entrepreneurs on choice of entity, legal and financial building blocks and start-up concerns. Medical and dental professionals utilize Sloan & Feller for sales of practices, buy-ins, as well as new practice creation.”
Feller was the vice president of the Estate Planning Council of Putnam County, a board member and the technology chairperson for the Putnam and Dutchess Geriatric Committee, and a member of the Putnam County Bar Association.
In 2010, he was appointed to the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession, a distinguished panel of legal practitioners and educators that studied and recommended ways to create a roadmap for the future of legal practice and training.
He was a member of the state Bar Association’s Electronic Communications Committee and started the Elder Law Attorney Practice Group (ELAP), which is the nation’s largest independent elder law attorney group on LinkedIn.
In 2012, Feller was asked to join the board of the Boxwood Alliance, a free and collaborative initiative to help keep Northern Westchester and Putnam County seniors in their homes and communities.
Besides elder law, estate planning and business strategy, the firm’s other areas of practice include advance directives, Last Will and Testaments, trusts, guardianships, probate and administrations, asset protections, real estate and entertainment law.
To learn more about Sloan & Feller, call 845-621-8640 or visit sloanandfeller.com.