How to Find and Select an Elder Law Attorney


If you have a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, there
are many issues that need to be addressed. Often, legal issues take a back seat
to medical issues, quality of care, caregiver issues, respite and the like.
However, properly addressing legal issues in a timely matter can go a long way
towards improving the quality of life of your family member with Alzheimer’s
disease, as well as making things easier for the caregivers, states the Fisher Center
for Alzheimer’s.

 

Selecting an attorney in a field as specialized as elder care law
can be overwhelming. After all, an elder care law attorney must be knowledgeable in
many areas, including Medicare, Medicaid, senior housing, tax law, estate law,
trust law, and health care decision making, to name a few. While there is no
shortage of attorneys, in general, it may not be so simple to find the right
law firm for you.

 

Here are some tips:

 

  • Make
    sure you select an elder care attorney specialist. The legal field has become very
    specialized in recent years. The law firm you select may impact not only
    your legal affairs, but also those of your spouse and other family
    members. You wouldn’t go to a podiatrist if your head hurt; would you?

 

  • Ask
    your friends, colleagues and other professionals. Word of mouth and
    positive feedback are among the best ways to find an elder care attorney, especially
    one who is likely to have the requisite skills. Don’t be afraid to ask;
    someone who has gone through this process with their own relative can be
    very helpful to you in terms of what you should be looking for. Also, if
    you have used an attorney in the past who is not an elder law attorney
    (real estate, estate planning, litigation, or a matrimonial issue); try
    asking that attorney for a recommendation to an elder law attorney. Try
    asking other professionals, such as accountants, financial advisors,
    hospital discharge planners, geriatric care managers, or others in the
    aging community. If you hear the same name from several sources, then it
    is more likely that you have found someone who is well-known in their
    field.

 

  • Go on
    the internet. Google the attorney and the law firm. While you shouldn’t
    necessarily believe everything you read on the internet, it certainly can
    be a source of very useful information. If you are not comfortable using
    the computer, ask someone to do it for you. It is not uncommon for
    caregivers or other family members to assist in this process. Has the
    attorney authored any articles in the elder law field that you can read?
    Go to the law firm’s website to learn more about their practice areas.
    Does the attorney devote a significant amount of his professional time to
    elder law matters, or is it just a small component of his practice?

 

Selecting an attorney for a personal matter such as elder
law planning is no easy task. Combine that with the fact that you will likely
be dealing with many more pressing non-legal issues at the same time, and it is
easy to see why this process can be overwhelming. In a perfect world, the
attorney would be selected prior to a crisis and while the family is not under
stress. However, that is not always possible. Follow the steps outlined above
and you will increase your likelihood of finding and selecting the right elder
law attorney for you.

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