The Law Offices of Brenda McElnea, CELA

Experienced Elder Law Attorney

Schedule a Consultation Call 866-241-8477

Brenda S McElnea
Brenda S. McElnea
  • Owner


West Orange, NJ





Brenda is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation and is one of only 325 attorneys in the entire United States who has qualified to be  a CELA.

To qualify as a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) the attorney must have practiced law for at least five years, and have spent an average of not less than 16 hours per week practicing elder law during the three years preceding their application, and must have handled at least 60 elder law matters during those three years with a specified distribution among specific legal areas as determined by the National Elder Law Foundation.  A CELA must have participated in at least 45 hours of continuing legal education in elder/disability law during the three years preceding their application and must continue that education going forward.    In addition, a CELA must submit the names of five references from attorneys familiar with the CELA's competence in elder/disability law.  The CELA must pass a full one day written certification examination, be licensed to practice law in at least one state, and be a member in good standing of the state bars where they are licensed. 


She has been a frequent lecturer on guardianships, special needs planning, guardianships, and elder law and estate and tax planning for the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the National Business Institute. In addition, she is a frequent lecturer to other professional and support groups, in person, on radio and on television.


She is Co-Author of Conservatorships and Guardianships chapter for ICLE Treatise, New Jersey & Disability Law Practice. Trustee of the Guardianship Association of New Jersey, Inc. She is the Author of the Medicaid and the Estate Planning sections of Disability Law and A Legal Primer.

Areas Of Practice

  • Elder/Disability Law
  • Guardianships
  • Medicaid Planning and Applications
  • Special Needs Trusts and Other Planning for Disabled Special Need Individuals
  • Guardianships & Conservatorships
  • Living Wills
  • General Durable Powers of Attorney
  • Health Care Proxies
  • Medicaid Applications
  • Trusts and Wills

Certified Legal Specialties

  • Certified Elder Law Attorney, ABA Approved Nation Elder Law Foundation, 1995

Bar Admissions

  • New Jersey, 1977
  • U.S. District Court District of New Jersey, 1977
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1996


  • New York University School of Law, New York, New York
    • LL.M. - 1984
    • Major: Taxation
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey School of Law - Newark, Newark, New Jersey
    • J.D. - 1983
    • Honors: With Honors
  • New York University, Washington Square College, New York, New York
    • B.A.
    • Honors: magna cum laude
    • Honors: Thi Beta Kappa
    • Honors: Dean's List (4 Years)
    • Major: History

Published Works

  • Guardianship Applications and Attorney’s Fees, N.J. Law Journal , Aug., 2010
  • ICLE Treatise – New Jersey Elder and Disability Law Practice, ICLE
  • Guardianship and Conservatorship Chapter (Co-Author)
  • Medicaid and Estate Planning Chapters Disability Law, A Legal Trimmer, 5th Edition, ECBA Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006
  • ECBA Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


  • N.J. Volunteer Lawyers for Justice on Guardianships and Wills, VLJ of ABA, 2000
  • Representing Clients with Diminished Capacity - Assessments, Assistance and Advocacy, New Jersey State Bar Association Annual Meeting Atlantic City, New Jersey For Professionals, 05/14/2009 to 05/14/2009
  • Gift Giving. Identity Theft and Other Monetary Minefields to be Aware Of For Seniors, NJSBA Senior Citizen's Day New Brunswick, N.J., 04/13/2010 to 04/13/2010
  • Estate Planning, Avoiding Guardianships, Medicaid and Elder Law For the General Public, Alzheimer's Association, hosted by Daughters of Miriam, 04/20/2010 to 04/20/2010
  • ICLE Annual Case Law Review For Professionals, NJSBA Annual Elder Law Retreat, 04/22/2010 to 04/22/2010
  • Presenter, Daughters of Miriam Clifton, N.J., 06/22/2010 to 06/22/2010
  • Presenter, Winchester Gardens Maplewood, N.J., 09/09/2009 to 09/09/2009
  • Presenter, Senior Care and Activities Center Montclair, N.J., 09/05/2009 to 09/05/2009
  • Presenter, New Hope Baptist Church Sr. Day Newark, N.J., 04/07/2009 to 04/07/2009
  • Presenter, Multiple Sclerosis Support Group Livingston, N.J., 07/13/2009 to 07/13/2009

Honors and Awards

  • Selected to New Jersey Super Lawyers

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • ABA, 1991 to Present
  • NJSBA, Elder/Disability Law Section, Present and Past Chair, 1991 to Present
  • NJSBA, Real Property, Trusts & Estates, 1998 to Present
  • ECBA Elder Law/Disability Law Committee, Elder Law/Disability Law Committee Chair Member, 1989 to Present
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), Member, 1991
  • Special Needs Alliance, 2008 to Present
  • Guardianship Association of New Jersey, Trustee, 1998 to Present

Past Employment Positions

  • Margolis Chase, Associate Attorney, 1988 to 1990


  • Phi Beta Kappa