Seven Important Questions To Ask an Elder Law Attorney

How do you know you’re making the right decisions when it comes to future planning? Are you concerned about sorting your legal documents and finances? 

At Sedgebrook, we understand just how overwhelming the process of retirement planning can be for you and your loved ones. We always say, “What matters to you, matters to us,” and this applies to financial and legal matters just as much as it does to services and amenities.

That’s why we recommend working with an elder law attorney to organize your assets. Learn more about elder attorneys and how to make the most out of your relationship with them below.

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

An elder law attorney specializes in legal issues that affect older individuals and their families. The primary focus of an elder law attorney is to address the unique legal needs and challenges faced by older individuals. Below are some common areas that an elder law attorney may handle:

Estate Planning

This involves helping clients plan for the distribution of their assets upon death. This may include drafting wills, irrevocable trusts, special needs trusts, and other documents to ensure that clients’ wishes are carried out and their assets are transferred efficiently.

Long-Term Care Planning

How will you pay for long-term care if health issues arise? Elder law attorneys assist clients in planning for the costs associated with long-term care, such as nursing home care, senior living community care, or in-home care. This may involve strategies to protect assets while still qualifying for government-funded health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Guardianship and Conservatorship

In situations where an older adult is unable to make decisions for themselves due to incapacity, an elder law attorney may assist in establishing guardianships or conservatorships to appoint someone to make legal and financial decisions on their behalf.

Social Security and Retirement Benefits

Elder law attorneys can help clients navigate the complexities of Social Security and other retirement benefits, ensuring they receive the maximum benefits to which they are entitled.

Health Care and Advance Directives

These attorneys may assist clients in creating advance directives, such as living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care, to specify their medical treatment preferences and designate someone to make health care decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so.

Abuse and Exploitation

Elder law attorneys may handle cases involving elder abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. They can take legal action to protect the rights and interests of older individuals who are vulnerable to such mistreatment.

Age Discrimination

If an older adult faces discrimination in employment or housing based on their age, an elder law attorney can provide legal representation to address these issues.

Probate and Estate Administration

In the event of a person’s death, an elder law attorney may assist with the probate process and estate administration, ensuring that the deceased person’s wishes are carried out and that assets are distributed appropriately.

It’s important to note that the specific services provided by elder law attorneys may vary based on the laws of the jurisdiction in which they practice. If you or a family member are in need of legal assistance related to aging issues, consulting with an experienced elder law attorney is advisable.

man is hired to handle outreach and promotions to senior adults in the community.

7 Questions To Ask an Elder Law Attorney

Now that you have a better understanding of the services elder law attorneys provide, prepare yourself to meet one in person. When seeking guidance from an elder law attorney, it’s essential to ask pertinent questions to ensure that you understand their expertise and can make informed decisions. Here are seven important questions to consider, with sub-questions added:

1. What is your experience and expertise level?

  • How long have you been practicing elder law?
  • What percentage of your practice is dedicated to elder law cases?
  • Have you handled cases similar to mine?
  • Did you attend/complete certifications from the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys or another accredited national elder law organization?

2. What services and specializations do you offer?

  • What specific services do you provide for seniors?
  • Do you specialize in particular areas of elder law, such as Medicaid planning, estate planning, or guardianship?

3. What are your legal costs and billing requirements?

  • What are your fee structures?
  • Do you offer a flat fee, hourly rates, or contingency fees?
  • Can you estimate the total cost of handling my case?

4. How do you communicate updates to clients?

  • What’s your preferred method of communication: phone, email, or in-person meetings?
  • What can I expect in terms of updates and progress reports on my case?

5. How can you help me plan for the future?

  • How can you assist me in planning for long-term care and potential incapacity?
  • What strategies do you recommend for protecting assets and qualifying for government benefits like Medicaid?

6. How can you help me go about legal decision-making?

  • How do you involve family members in the decision-making processes, especially when dealing with issues like guardianship and power of attorney?
  • What steps can be taken to ensure that my wishes are respected in the event of incapacity or death?

7. Are clients generally satisfied with your services?

  • Can you provide references or client testimonials?
  • Have you successfully resolved cases similar to mine?

These questions should help you gauge the attorney’s qualifications, communication style, and approach to handling elder law matters. Additionally, it’s crucial to establish a comfortable and trustworthy relationship with your attorney, as you may be dealing with sensitive and personal matters related to aging, health care, and financial planning.

Plan for a Secure, Worry-Free Future at Sedgebrook

When it comes to planning your retirement, you want to feel confident you’re making the right choices based on your personal finances. Give us a call at (847) 780-9750 to learn more about all the financial benefits that come with living at a Life Plan Community like Sedgebrook.

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