What is an Elder law attorney?
An Elder Law Attorney explains….When I started my own practice, like most attorneys who open their own office, I took on all sorts of cases. I took on divorces, child custody, personal injury, adoptions, probates, wills – I did a little bit of everything because I was just starting my practice and I needed every case that walked in the door. I knew, however, that I really wanted to focus my practice on estate planning. I soon realized I could not do estate planning (especially in Tampa, Florida) without being knowledgeable about issues pertaining to senior citizens. After all, Florida has one of the highest percentages of senior citizens (i.e., those age 65 or over) than any other state.
So, I set out to learn everything I could about elder law. I asked an attorney to mentor me, I joined groups that focused on elder law, and I took every CLE that I could get my hands on. I wanted to be the best elder law attorney I could be. And, after about 8 years of practice, I sat for the board certification exam (and passed!), was reviewed by my peers, and became board certified in Elder law. But that still doesn’t answer the question, what is an Elder law attorney?
I’ll tell you what an Elder law attorney is not. It is not someone who has a general practice (i.e., does a little bit of everything or takes whatever case walks in the door) or someone who does a Will here or there, or a family law attorney who occasionally writes a durable power of attorney for a client. Why wouldn’t you want to go to an attorney who has a general practice? Well, if you have cancer, you do not go to your primary care doctor for treatment, do you? No, you’d go to an oncologist – someone who specializes in treatment of cancer. So, if you have an elder law issue, why would you go to anyone other than someone who specializes in elder law?
An Elder law attorney is someone who is familiar with the unique issues facing senior citizens, and focuses her practice in areas which include disability planning (which includes special needs planning), long term care planning (which can include planning for care in the home or nursing home care and how to pay for the care via Medicare, VA benefits, Medicaid, and long term care insurance), estate planning (preparing Wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, living wills and health care surrogate designations), guardianship and probate. An Elder law attorney is familiar with the ever changing laws that affect those with disabilities, including senior citizens, and works with and refers to a network of qualified individuals who also serve the senior citizen community such as geriatric care managers, home health care companies and assisted living and nursing home facilities.
When do you need an Elder law attorney? You need an Elder law attorney if:
* if you are concerned about what will happen to you and your property if you become incapacitated
* If you or a loved one needs long term care and you are unsure about how to pay for it
* If you are concerned about a disabled loved one losing their benefits
* If you are concerned about your assets going through probate
* If you are concerned about a loved one being taken advantage of due to incapacity
Interested in talking to an Elder law attorney? Please call Florida Board Certified Elder law attorney, Laurie E. Ohall at 813-438-8503 for a free telephone consultation.