An elder law attorney specializes in legal issues that relate to seniors and the problems they tend to face. This particular area of the law only became well-recognized in the 1980s when the legal issues affecting seniors became more complicated. The challenges of qualifying for Medi-Cal coverage at a time when the need for nursing home care was on the rise brought to light the advantages of having an elder law attorney for assistance. So, what exactly does an elder law attorney do?
What makes someone an elder law attorney
The special experience and training that elder law attorneys have in the legal concerns of seniors is only part of what makes them experts. Their ability to understand the needs of their clients, anticipate future issues that may arise and provide legal advocacy, education, and counseling is what makes an attorney an elder law attorney.
An elder law attorney works with the family
Elder law attorneys typically work closely with the client and their families in order to completely address every client’s specific needs and goals. It is important for the attorney to gather information regarding health care needs, as well as, the family dynamics and how they may be able to address those needs.
An elder law attorney works with the community
In order to be effective, elder law attorneys must maintain connections with the professionals who routinely provide services to seniors. Knowing which professionals those are requires a working knowledge of the common problems affecting seniors, as well as keeping up with the changes in laws affecting the elderly. The advocacy of an elder law attorney goes far beyond basic will drafting. It requires recognition of the real mental and physical challenges of the elderly and the need to preserve as much freedom and autonomy as possible.
Common legal issues handled by elder law attorneys
Since elder law is a specialty, there are certain aspects of the law that are commonly handled by these attorneys. Some of those include the following:
- Medi-Cal and Medicare coverage for long-term care
- Estate planning and administration
- Conservatorships of the estate and of the person
- Establishing and administering various types trusts
What should I ask my elder law attorney?
One of the first questions to ask is which areas of elder law the attorney is familiar with. Not every type of elder law matter is handled by every attorney. It is best to hire an attorney who frequently handles the types of matters with which you or your loved one needs assistance. Other helpful questions may be how long the attorney has been practicing in this field and how much of his or her practice is devoted to elder law?
What do elder law attorneys charge?
Most elder law attorneys charge flat rates for their services, but every client’s needs may be different. For that reason, most attorneys do not provide a list of services and applicable rates. At the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law, we will explain in detail the plan we propose and inform you of the fees for all of your options in advance.
California’s statutory fees for probate administration
California, like many other states, have established maximum statutory fees for compensation of both the personal representative of an estate and the attorney representing the estate. Currently, the fees are graduated as follows:
- four percent of the first $100,000 of the estate,
- three percent of the next $100,000,
- two percent of the next $800,000,
- one percent of the next $9,000,000, and
- one-half percent of the next $15,000,000
For any estate larger than $15,000,000, the court will determine the fee for the amount that is exceeds that figure. Higher fees can be ordered by a court in special circumstances and for more complicated cases.
If you have questions regarding elder law attorneys, or any other estate planning needs, please contact the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law, either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500.