Elder law is a particular area of the law that deals with the needs of senior adults. Things like wills, future health care choices and other decisions are established through elder care (often with assistance of a family member) to keep a parent or spouse’s wishes intact as they continue to age. However, all of this requires legal documentation and the help of an attorney to establish.
Knowing which elder law attorney is right for you isn’t always easy. It’s a broad field that encompasses many different specialties. Identifying how they line up with your needs can be challenging–but it doesn’t have to be.
We’ve outlined some key ways to ensure you’re choosing an elder law attorney that is best suited for your needs. With these steps, you only need to focus on your needs and ask the right questions.
1. Get A Referral From Someone You Trust
If you find yourself struggling to make time to research lawyers and want to make things easier, sometimes it is best to seek out referrals from friends or family. When you ask someone for a referral, be sure that the lawyer in question works in a relevant area of law. Just because they’re a good lawyer in their area of law doesn’t mean they can necessarily help you in the realm of elder law.
You can also get referrals from other lawyers. Believe it or not, lawyers give out recommendations when they cannot help a potential client. So if you had a positive experience with a lawyer but that does not specialize in elder law, their recommendation could be just as valuable.
2. Look At Their Credentials
To practice law in Alabama, an attorney must be licensed in the state and register with the Bar Association. Most people know this, but these requirements are only the bare minimum. If you want to look for signs of outstanding achievement, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.
Don’t be fooled by designations that sound important. Many of these only require that the attorney pay a fee to an organization in order to receive their designation. You need to inquire as to their knowledge of how the estate planning tools of interest work together, what happens if they contradict one another, or what happens if there is future litigation surrounding the documents.
3. Check Their Experience
Attorneys rarely get to give you a detailed synopsis of their experience through their advertisements. Instead, they will most often describe the general areas of law that they practice and tell you how long they’ve been operating. Those are both fine things to know, but seeking out more details will give you a better picture of what they are passionate about and what kind of fit they may be for you and your case.
For example, two lawyers who work in elder law may not focus on the same issues. So it’s vital to know if their skillsets line up with your needs. Elder law covers a wide range of subjects, including estate planning, elder abuse, veterans benefits, Medicare and Medicaid planning, long-term care, and power of attorney, to name a few. An elder law firm with a broad range of experience and attention to detail is better positioned to give long-term advice and develop a comprehensive plan.
Before searching for an elder law attorney, list the specific issues you want to be addressed and use them as selection criteria. Then, you can compare it to what’s listed on a firm’s website to start filtering candidates before you ever schedule a consultation. You may be surprised at how quickly this method brings you qualified candidates.
4. Ask About Their Billing Structure
Finding a lawyer that meets all your legal needs is only half the battle. The second half? Be sure you can afford their services.
When consulting with a lawyer, ask them how they bill clients (if they don’t mention it themselves–most will). Some charge by the hour, while others operate with a flat rate. Ask about any additional fees they may charge so you can have a complete picture to calculate costs with.
Finding a lawyer who fits comfortably within your budget can be tricky at times. It’s no secret that legal services can be expensive. However, lawyers want to work with clients, and most have a certain level of flexibility.
5. Gauge Their Interactions with You
When you first consult with a lawyer, pay close attention to how they interact with you. What they say and how they speak are good indicators of what your working relationship will be like. For example, if they’re courteous, invite you to ask questions, and ask many questions themselves, you’ll likely have an easier time working alongside them.
You want to make sure they respond to your emails and messages promptly, especially if you expect to do a lot of long-distance communication. But, again, it’s about feeling respected and having control of the situation. After all, they need your work just as much as you need their help.
Brackin Law Firm – Experienced Elder Law Attorneys
As a senior or the loved one of a senior, an experienced elder lawyer can help you address legal matters that can affect one’s quality of life and health. You’ll need an expert to interpret complex Alabama laws and you’ll want the very best to help you plan for your loved ones.
At Brackin Law Firm, our experienced Elder Law attorneys can assist you or your loved ones with planning for long term care and ensuring medical needs are met should the time come when you or your family member can no longer care for oneself.
We are passionate about developing an estate plan that works for your family, and we will work with you to ensure that your future is laid out in writing. If you’re searching for a skilled attorney specializing in elder law, get in touch with us today to schedule your free initial consultation.