You and your parents are in the process of choosing an elder law attorney. What should you consider?
Elder law is a confluence of several areas of law, such as: Probate and estate planning: The attorney should be able to discuss a will, durable power of attorney, living will, health care power of attorney and or a probate avoidance trust. At a minimum, you want to avoid probate during your lifetime (probate guardianships) and at death (probate estates).
Retirement income: The attorney should be able to discuss commonly received benefits from Social Security, Public Employees Retirement, State Teachers Retirement, Federal and State Retirement, Railroad and Union Retirement, Veterans Pension benefits, Private defined benefits, 401k, 403b and IRA s, standard and Roth;
Health insurance: The attorney should be able to discuss Private health insurance including the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicare supplemental policies, (public and private primary/secondary insurance);
Long-term care: The attorney should be able to discuss care and costs in the community, in assisted living facilities and in long term care facilities in addition Long Term Care Insurance and/or Medicaid for home care, for assisted living and for long term care facilities;
Asset preservation: The attorney should be able to discuss asset protection for the parents, the children and/or grandchildren. The attorney should be able to discuss how to protect your real estate, your investment accounts, your bank accounts and your annuities from creditors, including the State of Florida.
You should organize your personal and financial data so you know which topic you need to discuss with the elder law attorney before you call or meet.
You may also want to review their biography (you can request it by email or regular mail) or visit the firm web page to view credentials.
When you meet with them consider first off is the attorney Board Certified? Laurie Ohall is one of only four Board Certified attorneys in the Tampa area.
Other ponts to consider:
A. Personality – Do you feel comfortable with the attorney and/or the staff?
B. Communication and Promptness – What is the usual reply time to calls or emails?
C. Certification in estate planning, probate and /or elder law;
D. Years of experience in the Elder law area;
E. Type of cases, how many and their success in representing clients like you and your family.
G. Attorney Fees – A written fee agreement at the initial conference should quote fees for agreed services or anticipated services.
F. Ancillary Fee disclosure – Disclosure of any monies earned by the attorney for a referral to a third party or the sale of a financial product.
Because of the experience required, most elder law attorneys will not conduct free initial consultation but will offer a free telephone conference to review general information and ensure that the attorney can help you with your issue; it is not to provide specific legal advice.
Elder law planning tailors your lifetime needs with probate avoidance and asset preservation for future generations. And remember, it is the last gift you give to your children; and they will thank you for it!