Donald D. Vanarelli

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Elder Law Attorney in Westfield, NJ

Law Office of Donald D. Vanarelli
 | 242 St. Paul Street, Westfield, NJ 07090
Phone: 908-232-7400
Fax: 908-232-7214
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2020
Licensed Since: 1983
Practice Areas:
  • Elder Law (40%),
  • Estate & Trust Litigation (30%),
  • Estate Planning & Probate (20%),
  • Social Security Disability (10%)
Languages Spoken:
  • English,
  • Chinese-Mandarin


No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Please visit the Super Lawyers Selection Process for a detailed description of the Super Lawyers selection methodology.

    Attorney Profile

    New Jersey attorney Donald D. Vanarelli is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, by NJ State Bar Assn., Elder and Disability Law Section. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognized Mr. Vanarelli’s advocacy in elder and disability law, including a number of precedent-setting legal victories which advanced the rights of seniors and persons with disabilities. He is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney, by National Elder Law Foundation, accredited by the ABA. He has been named to the Super Lawyers list for 14 years, and he's rated "AV Preeminent" by Martindale-Hubble, the highest rating available for legal ability and ethical standards.

    Mr. Vanarelli focuses his practice on elder law, estate planning, special needs planning and probate litigation. With his Westfield-based firm, Mr. Vanarelli represents elderly and disabled individuals and their representatives in cases involving long-term medical care, Medicare, Medicaid, VA, and other public benefits, will contests, contested guardianships, administrative appeals, elder abuse trials and special needs planning. He also has experience with family law matters such as elder mediation, divorce mediation and collaborative services. 

    Mr. Vanarelli was lead counsel in Saccone v. Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, a precedent-setting Special Needs Trust case decided by the NJ Supreme Court, and in In re Keri, a landmark NJ Supreme Court Elder Law / Guardianship case. Mr. Vanarelli was also co-counsel in Galletta v. Velez, in which a federal court held, for the first time, that VA pension benefits are not countable in determining Medicaid eligibility.

    Mr. Vanarelli's qualifications allow him to represent a diverse range of clients in Westfield and throughout the metropolitan area. Early in his career, Mr. Vanarelli served in the Peace Corps and worked for the Social Security Administration. A graduate of Montclair State University, Mr. Vanarelli earned his law degree from Rutgers School of Law and is licensed to practice in both New Jersey and New York.

    Mr. Vanarelli is a founding member of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys and a charter member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

    Other professional organizations that Mr. Vanarelli belongs to include the National Guardianship Association, Inc., the New Jersey State Bar Association and the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators. He also served as a panelist on the Union County Probate Early Settlement Panel and on the board of directors for the Society on Aging of New Jersey. He currently serves as a representative for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives.

    Practice Areas
    • 40%Elder Law
    • 30%Estate & Trust Litigation
    • 20%Estate Planning & Probate
    • 10%Social Security Disability
    Focus Areas

    Will Contests, Estate Planning, Guardianships & Conservatorships, Living Wills, Power of Attorney, Probate & Estate Administration, Trusts, Wills


    Selected to Super Lawyers for 14 yearsbottom-image

    Super Lawyers: 2007 - 2020

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    About Donald Vanarelli

    Admitted: 1983, New Jersey

    Professional Webpage:


    • To be certified in Elder Law, an attorney must have practiced Elder Law for at least five (5) years, had substantive involvement in the practice areas that make up Elder Law, passed a full day written exam, and received references from five (5) Elder Law attorneys. In addition to knowing about Elder Law generally, a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) must be capable of recognizing issues of concern that arise during counseling and representation of older persons and special needs clients or their representatives., Certified Elder Law Attorney, National Elder Law Foundation, Certified by the American Bar Association
    • "AV Preeminent" Rated by Martindale-Hubbell, 2006 - Present
    • Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq., has been named to the New Jersey “Super Lawyer” list in the areas of Elder Law, Estate Planning / Probate, and Estate / Probate Litigation in 2016. Mr. Vanarelli was previously named to the New Jersey “Super Lawyer” list in years 2007 through 2015. , Named to the New Jersey Super Lawyer List, 2007
    • Lifetime Achievement Award, NJ State Bar Association, Elder and Disability Law Section, 2015

    Special Licenses/Certifications:

    • Certified Elder Law Attorney, National Elder Law Foundation, an American Bar Association Certifying Organization
    • Accredited Professional Mediator, New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators, 2007 - Present
    • Registered Guardian, National Guardianship Foundation, 2005 - Present
    • National Certified Guardian

    Bar/Professional Activity:

    • Founding Member, Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, 2006 - Present
    • Member, National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representative, 1997 - Present
    • Past Chairman, Somerset County Elder Law Committee
    • Member, Union County Elder Law Committee
    • Co-chair, Guardianship Association of New Jersey Conference, 2007
    • Trained Professional in Collaborative Law, North Jersey and Central Jersey Collaborative Law Groups, 2007 - Present
    • New York, 1984
    • Member, New Jersey Bar's Elder Law Section
    • Social Policy Chairperson, Board of Directors of Society on Aging of New Jersey
    • Charter Member, Academy of Special Needs Planners, 2006 - Present
    • New Jersey, 1983
    • Past Secretary, New Jersey Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
    • Member, Center for Guardianship Certification

    Pro bono/Community Service:

    • Peace Corps Volunteer in Kathmandu, Nepal
    • Panelist, Union County Probate Early Settlement Panel, 2006 - Present


    • Lead counsel in Saccone v. Police and Firemen's Retirement System, a precedent-setting Special Needs Trust case. In Saccone, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the disabled child of a retired fireman may have his survivors’ benefits paid into a special needs trust rather than directly to the child, thereby allowing the child to maintain eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits based on financial need. Saccone v. Police and Firemen's Retirement System, 219 N.J. 369, 98 (2014) , 2014
    • Co-counsel in Galletta v. Velez, Civil No. 13-532 (D.N.J. June 3, 2014), in which a federal district judge, for the first time, ruled that a VA pension benefit may not be counted as income in determining eligibility for any Medicaid program., 2014
    • Lead counsel in In re Keri, 181 NJ 50 (2004), a landmark NJ Supreme Court case in which guardians, for the first time, were permitted to engage in public benefits palnning to obtain Medicaid eligibility for their wards. , 2004

    Representative Clients:

    • Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) of Union County Lifetime Support
    • Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey (PLAN/NJ)


    Educational Background:

    • Rutgers Law School - Newark
    • Montclair State College, B.A. in English Literature and History, Honors: Dean's List
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    Office Location for Donald D. Vanarelli

    242 St. Paul Street
    Westfield, NJ 07090

    Phone: 908-232-7400

    Fax: 908-232-7214

    Donald D. Vanarelli:

    Last Updated: 12/4/2019

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