Donald Vanarelli


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Donald Vanarelli

Law Office of Donald Vanarelli

242 St. Paul Street
Westfield, NJ 07090
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Donald D. Vanarelli has been a practicing attorney since 1983, admitted to practice law in New Jersey and New York. Mr. Vanarelli is committed to protecting the legal rights of seniors, the disabled and their families, and families in conflict. Mr. Vanarelli and the other lawyers in his firm provide legal services of the highest quality in the areas of elder law, estate planning, trust administration, special education, special needs planning and trial advocacy, including probate litigation, will contests, contested guardianships, and elder abuse trials. Mr. Vanarelli also assists clients and families in conflict through dispute resolution services, including elder mediation, divorce mediation and collaborative services.

Mr. Vanarelli has been actively involved in trial advocacy on behalf of elderly and disabled citizens of New Jersey, appearing before the New Jersey Supreme Court, federal court and administrative agencies on multiple cases in precedent-setting cases. In that regard, Mr. Vanarelli represented the plaintiff in a pivotal special needs trust case decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court entitled Saccone v. Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, 219 N.J. 369 (2014). Mr. Vanarelli represented the plaintiff in a seminal estate planning / guardianship case entitled In re Keri, 181 N.J. 50 (2004). Mr. Vanarelli was co-counsel representing plaintiff Alma Galletta and the putative class plaintiffs in Galletta v. Velez, Civil No. 13-532 (D.N.J. June 3, 2014) in which a federal district judge ruled, for the first time, that a pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs may not be counted as income in determining Medicaid eligibility. 

Mr. Vanarelli is a recipient of the Marilyn Askin Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Elder and Disability Law Section. The Lifetime Achievement Award, the Elder and Disability Law Section’s highest honor, is bestowed on an attorney with an established history of distinguished service who has made significant contributions in the field of elder and disability law throughout his or her career. 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.

Mr. Vanarelli is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, an ABA-certifying organization. In addition, Mr. Vanarelli is an Accredited Veterans Attorney, a Founding Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners, an Accredited Professional Mediator, a Co-Founder of the Elder Mediation Center of New Jersey, and a Co-Founder of the New Jersey Collaborative Law Group. He is a Past Chair of the Elder and Disability Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Mr. Vanarelli has been rated “AV Pre-Eminent” by Martindale-Hubbell for 15 years, signifying professional excellence. He was named to the New Jersey “Super Lawyer” list in the years 2007 – present.

Mr. Vanarelli is a graduate of Montclair State University and Rutger’s Law School. He served as Law Clerk to Hon. Herbert S. Alterman, J.S.C., and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Past Positions: Hon. Herbert S. Alterman, J.S.C., Judicial Clerkship, 1983 - 1984; Hon. Leonard I. Garth, U.S.C.J., Judicial Internship, 1982 - 1983; Social Security Administration, Claims Representative, 1974 - 1980; Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, 1972 - 1974. 

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