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A Crucial Decision: Choosing an Elder Law Attorney

A Crucial Decision: Choosing an Elder Law Attorney Image

Like most choices in life, it is important to choose wisely when selecting an attorney.  However, it is especially critical to find the right Elder Law attorney when one is needed due to the serious nature of issues that may confront Seniors and their families. 

Before we discuss how best to choose an Elder Law Attorney, we should take a moment and define Elder Law.  While there are various definitions, I believe the best definition for Elder Law is that it is the comprehensive approach to the legal affairs of Seniors and their families. 

The comprehensive component of the definition is critical as so many things change as we get older.  Unlike a conventional residential real estate transaction, where there may not be diverse legal issues to analyze, there are a breadth of issues to comprehensively manage for an Elder Law attorney and some that often involve key family members.  For example, Seniors often have health care, long-term care, incapacity, living arrangements, finances, familial, estate and other issues that need to be addressed and managed. 

These issues are not only difficult to deal with on an individual basis, but can form quite the dilemma when having to be dealt with simultaneously.  The other important aspect to understand is that many of our elderly cannot recover from mistakes in their planning.  Thus, it is vital that our parents and grandparents are getting the best advice as soon as possible.

An example of one of these critical situations is when one finds him or herself having to reside in a nursing home.  At this pivotal juncture, there are many issues that need to be addressed and some that need to be taken care of immediately.  To just name a few: “How do I select the right nursing home?  How will I pay for the nursing home care and will I exhaust my resources doing so?  Who will make decisions for me if I am incapacitated and am unable to speak for myself?

A well-versed Elder Law Attorney can walk you through these very questions to determine appropriate solutions.  Furthermore, by using a wholistic approach and analysis, the right Elder Law Attorney can help you by looking at all sides of an issue to find the planning that best fits your individual situation. 

While some attorneys will state that they practice Elder Law simply because they represent Seniors in some capacity, a true and tried Elder Law Attorney typically can advise on how long-term care will take place and be paid for if it is needed.  And with the legal market as competitive and difficult as it is, Seniors and their families should be aware that there is an increase in attorneys venturing into areas of which they be unfamiliar. 

Thankfully, there is a way to safely choose an Elder Law Attorney that can help you and your family find the right one to represent your interests.  By selecting an Elder Law Attorney that is Board Certified as an expert in the area of Elder Law, one can be assured that he or she is being represented by an attorney with a thorough knowledge of the very topics you may be worried about as you age.   

While there are some very competent Elder Law attorneys that are not certified (they typically have a decade or more of experience), please be advised that  there are also attorneys that portray themselves as Elder Law attorneys despite having only limited experience.  Unfortunately, a lack of expertise can produce irreparable results.  In sum: Buyer beware!  Go with experience and a proven track record when it comes to your loved one’s Elder Law concerns.  Seek out an attorney that is Board Certified in the area of Elder Law and start planning today.

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