There are a variety of specialty fields in the area of law. Elder law is an important area that focuses on the legal concerns of seniors. As and experienced elder law firm, we understand the complex financial and social issues that our senior population often experience. We have knowledge and awareness that their clients can benefit from as they navigate through life.
Questions you may want to ask before your first appointment
One of the first questions you should ask at your first appointment with any attorney is whether they handle the type of legal issue you are concerned about. Although there are many general legal issues that most Sacramento elder law attorneys are familiar with, not all attorneys handle all types of cases. In other words, you should speak with an attorney who frequently handles the type of issue with which you need assistance. For example, if you have concerns about Medi-Cal or Veterans Benefits eligibility, you should inquire about their experience with Medi-Cal or Veterans Benefits plannings and applications.
Do your attorneys have general knowledge of other areas of the law?
It is also a good idea to find out whether your attorney has general knowledge regarding other areas of the law that may impact your life, as well. Seniors often have legal concerns that are shared with everyone else. For instance, seniors who are engaging in estate planning with a spouse that may be a resident in a nursing home, or if they have a reverse mortgage or a disabled child, the attorney should be well versed in these estate planning issues.
How long as the attorney been practicing in the area of elder law?
One way to gauge the experience level of an attorney is knowing how long they have been practicing in a particular field. You can also ask how much of the attorney’s practice is actually devoted to elder law. Many law firms handle a variety of cases, but if they focus on certain areas they likely have more experience in those areas.
Ask about fees and expenses so you know what to expect
Before deciding to buy something in a store, most people want to know how much it will cost. The same is true when hiring an attorney. It is a good idea to ask about fees for the first consultation before you arrive. Once you are there, you can also ask what the fee will be for the specific types of services that you believe you may need. You should also ask about expenses, as well.
Find out if you need to bring anything to your first meeting
Depending on the legal issues that you need to consult with your elder law attorney about, there may be certain information or documentation that will be helpful to your attorney. It will save time if you bring the necessary information to the first meeting so there will be no need to reschedule just for that purpose. Ultimately, having this information will prepare you for a productive and informative first meeting.
The benefits of hiring an elder law attorney
As with most professions, it is often better to seek the advice of those professionals who specialize in a relevant area. Experienced and qualified elder law attorneys bring to their practice an understanding of the issues that seniors face, which allows them to better assist with those issues.
Starting the elder law planning conversation with your loved one
If you are consulting with an elder law attorney for the benefit of a parent or other loved one, you may be worried about how to proceed. The first step you should take, before actually starting the conversation, is to talk to all involved family members to make sure you are all on the same page. Resolve any misunderstandings or disputes ahead of time so that you can approach your parents with a united front. Doing so should reduce the risk of putting your parent on the defensive. This doesn’t mean the entire family needs to participate in the conversation.
The planning is much easier if your parent still has some decision-making capacity. In that case, the next step is talking with an elder law attorney to discuss the elements of the estate or incapacity plan that need to be included. When there are several siblings, for the purposes of transparency, it is best to have all of the children participating in the discussions if at all possible.
Download our FREE estate planning checklist today! If you have questions regarding elder law or estate planning matters, please contact us at the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500. We are here to help!