There is an increasing need for financial management with increasing lifespans. An aging population needs better estate planning, and this is here where an elder law attorney comes in. There is an increasing demand for elder law attorneys to help you, the elderly, in managing their current finances, tax liabilities, guardianships, and medical care.
Finding an Elder Law Attorney
Founded in 1987, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is a non-profit organization and the perfect platform to begin the search for an elder law attorney. NAELA has listed and vetted attorneys from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. You can use their attorney finder tool to get started.
Or, a referral from a friend or family works, more if their needs were similar to yours in the past. Fiduciaries, accountants, and financial advisors frequently work with elder law attorneys. Recommendations from them is beneficial.
Choosing an Elder Law Attorney
Keep the following attributes in mind for choosing an elder law attorney.
- Experience and Knowledge
Elder law encompasses various other fields of laws and legislations. Some of them would be medicaid, social security cases, spousal asset transfer, disability claims, health insurance claims, estate planning, management and execution, guardianships, probate, trust management, life care, patients’ rights in nursing homes, fraud recovery, home equity, retirement benefits, mental health laws, retirement benefits, and elder abuse.
Not all elder law attorneys will specialize in all the relevant laws and legislations. When talking to the attorney, you must inquire about their specific field of elder law work, their experience, and their understanding of the law. Many of the elder laws overlap each other. For example, an elder estate law planner needs to know about medicaid laws when you are writing or rewriting the will, and you have a dependent spouse who requires healthcare.
Being clear about how the elder law attorney can contribute overall is essential. Also, do not forget to verify their credentials at the concerned state Bar Association. The attorney should be actively licensed to practice in your state.
- Fee Structure
Whether the elder law attorney charges per hour or a flat rate is secondary. The primary concern is to understand if you can afford to hire the person, not just now but in the long-term as well. Ask whether the fees will be upfront or is it payable in intervals or instalments. Also, a flat rate might seem too expensive at first but it is better than getting nickel and dimed for every phone call or message.
- Legal Contract
Do not depend on an oral contract. Enter into a legally binding written contract after you are done with all the discussions. The contract should spell out the services that the elder law attorney is entrusted with to perform on your behalf, and the fees and expenses incurred by you. The contract should also define the termination clauses very clearly.
Communication is the key to a successful client-lawyer relationship. The elder law attorney should not be left to second guess your requirements. Ask tons of questions before finalizing the attorney. However, do not let the communication sideline ever. The attorney becomes your go-to person for all the concerned legal and financial matters. Discuss all the goals and objectives with clarity.
Hiring a reputable, knowledgeable, responsible, and experienced elder law attorney is the key to understanding how elder laws function and do special needs planning. You and your family will be in safer hands with the knowledge that all the finances and legalities have been sorted in time. So, check out this source.