When you are looking for an elder law attorney, ask these questions before hiring him or her to make sure they are the right fit.
As you age, concerns about your living situation, care needs, and finances start to arise. You might wonder how you will pay for long-term care, what will happen to your assets, or who will take care of you and make decisions on your behalf.
All of these are legitimate questions and concerns and ones you should bring to an elder law attorney. Elder law lawyers focus on the unique legal matters of seniors, and they can help you manage your circumstances today and well into the future.
Regardless of what questions bring you to an attorney, you need to meet with one earlier rather than later. The sooner you get an attorney involved, the easier it will be to put your concerns at ease and get you on the right path.
10 Critical Questions to Ask a Potential Elder Law Attorney
You have an attorney in mind, and you have scheduled the consultation. The next step is to create a list of questions. These questions help gauge whether the attorney is a good fit for your needs and addresses any initial concerns you may have. You want to address these questions in the consultation so that the attorney better understands what services you need.
1. Are You a Certified Elder Law Attorney?
An attorney can prove their prowess in elder law by being certified through the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). NELF helps attorneys understand the requirements regarding their clients better. To remain certified, your attorney must continue their practice focusing on elder law and do specific amounts of continuing education.
To certify, your attorney also must have a license in your state, maintain good standing with the New York State Bar Association, practice law for a minimum of five years, complete 45 hours of continuing education in elder law in the past three years, have references from five attorneys, and pass an examination.
2. How Many Years Have You Practiced Elder Law?
Some attorneys branch out into elder law because they see the growing demand. However, they do not practice exclusively in this area, or they recently opened their practice to that area of the law. Preferably, you want an attorney who has several years of experience. This is because the regulations regarding senior care, estate plans, and long-term care planning change continuously – and you need someone experienced with the case law and changes.
3. Is There a Niche in Elder Law on Which You Focus?
Some attorneys only focus on specialized areas of elder law such as elder abuse, long-term care, Medicare or Medicaid planning, and Social Security. Inquire about what areas of elder law your attorney practices in to make sure they cover not only the services you need, but also the services you may require in the future.
4. Do You Have Experience with Cases like Mine?
Every client and every case is unique. You want an attorney that has experience working on similar issues like yours because they are faster at creating a solution than an attorney venturing into unknown waters.
5. Who Will Handle My Case?
When you meet with an attorney, you should always ask who will be handling the case. The attorney you meet with might represent your case in court, but the back-end work involves a team of professionals such as an accountant, paralegal, secretary, and possibly other attorneys. Therefore, you’ll want to know who exactly you will encounter and who does the work on your case.
6. How Familiar Are You with the State Laws?
Your attorney is a guide through the legal system. You want to know the laws and how they affect you when it comes to areas like Medicaid, Medicare, long-term care planning, nursing home rights, estate planning, asset management, and more.
Your attorney should be well versed in all laws that affect your estate plan and long-term care planning.
7. What Relevant Organizations Do You Participate In?
Your attorney should participate in organizations that influence elder laws and planning. Examples would be: the Special Needs Alliance, local or state agencies involving elder law, and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.
8. How Familiar Are You with Medicare and Medicaid?
One of the most important services you receive from an elder attorney is Medicare or Medicaid planning. Therefore, you need an attorney that is well versed in these government systems and knows how to plan for long-term care properly.
Medicare is for individuals 65 years and older or those with a qualifying disability. These programs are highly complicated and have strict requirements. Your attorney must understand all of the requirements for Medicare or Medicaid, including assets, custodial care, and the needs-based entitlements from Medicaid.
9. What Happens to My File If You Stop Practicing?
One crucial question clients forget to ask is what happens to their files if their attorneys stop practicing. What if a severe illness strikes your attorney or the attorney retires? Who takes over their cases? Ask about your potential attorney’s contingency plan, and what they have in place in the event they retire or an emergency occurs.
10. What Suggestions Do You Have for Me?
You can get an idea of what your potential attorney has planned for you just by asking for suggestions. What do they suggest you do so that you can qualify for Medicare in the future? How do they suspect they will handle your assets in your estate plan?
Meet with an Elder Law Attorney in Your Area Today
The questions you have about your future should not go unanswered. If you need an elder law or estate planning attorney, meet with attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C., at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin.
He can meet with you and discuss your questions, find solutions to your pressing concerns, and help you navigate through the complexities of long-term care planning – including estates, assets, and Medicaid planning.
Schedule a free consultation today at 516-605-0625 or request your appointment online.