Choosing An Elder Law Attorney
The process of finding and choosing an elder law attorney begins by identifying that you actually need one. The question is: Why would you need the services of this specialized attorney?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you or a loved one have questions about paying for long-term care?
- Are your wills and powers of attorney up to date and in compliance with current law?
- Do you need advice on what kind of care your loved one needs and what their rights are?
- Are you looking to preserve assets for the duration of your illness?
- Are you concerned about assets being left for a spouse’s care in the future?
- Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, ALS or any other chronic medical condition which will, most likely, require long-term care?
- Do you need to pursue guardianship on behalf of a loved one?
- Do you need information on Medicaid planning?
- Do you or a loved one have a disability that you need to legally plan for?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you may need an elder law attorney.
Once you have identified that you need an elder law attorney, the next step is finding one. Law are different for each state. Attorneys must be licensed by the state. Therefore, it is important to find an attorney licensed in the state where you, or your loved one whose planning is concerned, lives (or maybe in the state where their property is located depending on the issues).
When Evaluating an Elder Law Attorney, Here are Some Good Questions to Ask:
Are they a CELA or a Certiﬁed Elder Law Attorney?
This special certification is the “gold standard” for elder law practitioners. Selecting an attorney who has been certified as a CELA means that you are choosing an attorney who has gone above and beyond to prove their commitment to older adults / people who have a disability.
—Attorneys Janna Dutton, Kathryn Casey, Helen Mesoloras, and Melissa Kallio are Certified Elder Law Attorneys.
Do they practice more than just estate planning?
An elder law attorney is not the same as an estate planning attorney! Although most elder law attorneys incorporate estate planning into their practice, elder law planning is different from estate planning.
Elder law planning seeks to preserve your money, income and assets to be used for your benefit and care while you are still alive. Estate planning focuses on the distribution of your assets after you die. Elder law attorneys have a deep understanding of the regulations for public benefits, the rights of older adults / people who have a disability, and the unique needs of families caring for an aging loved one. Make sure the attorney you choose practices more than just estate planning!
This information is not to be considered legal advice. If you have questions about it, please contact us.