Legal and financial planning for your older family members can be pretty complicated so getting help from an expert is invaluable. An elder care lawyer can help you protect assets, ensure that care needs are met and also consider estate planning too.
However, with so many practitioners in the market, it can be difficult to know who to choose. Here are some tips on how to find the right elder care attorney for your family.
Look for experience
Elder care law is an extensive subject so it’s essential to look for an attorney who has experience which matches your particular needs.
Maybe you’re looking for help with Medicaid, or perhaps it’s a living Will that’s the biggest priority. These are vastly different subjects and you’ll get the best outcome if you find an elder care lawyer who has dealt with cases which are similar to yours in the past.
Although every legitimate elder care attorney may have the theoretical knowledge, it’s practical experience which can really make the difference. Don’t be afraid to ask for examples of the areas they’ve worked on before.
Check their credentials
It’s very easy to get swept away on appearances, and if someone has the right look and seems knowledgeable, it’s tempting to not check their credentials. Unfortunately, there are those who prey on vulnerable groups so it’s vital to check that you’re dealing with someone you can really trust.
The quickest way to do this is by checking the website for the State Bar Association. You’ll need to make sure you’re looking at the right one for your state. You can search either by entering the attorney’s bar number or simply their name. As well as showing whether they are licensed to practice it will also display details of any prior offenses which were made public.
Consider the fee structure
Although it’s never a good idea to base your decision solely on cost, for many people it’s a factor that needs to be considered. There are different ways an elder care lawyer can charge and it’s important to understand how their pricing structure works to avoid an unexpectedly high bill.
Some attorneys will charge an hourly rate and will bill you for the work they do. This can seem like the cheaper option at first but costs can quickly spiral as you’ll be charged every time they touch your case. If you want to go with this type of pricing, get an estimate at the outset of how many hours are likely to be involved to complete the work you need.
The alternative is a flat rate fee. This means you’ll be charged one fixed rate for getting the work done, regardless of how long it takes. This often works out cheaper in the long term, particularly for more complex cases but make sure you agree at the start exactly what’s included in the price.
Trust your instincts
All of the above advice can help you to find a good elder care attorney but if they’re not sympathetic, helpful and easy to talk to, you’d be better off looking for someone else. You could be talking to them about very personal decisions, and possibly in difficult circumstances at some point in the future. Therefore, it’s imperative you feel that you can build a good relationship and trust them to support you when the need arises.