How to Find an Elder Law Attorney
To find the right elder law attorney for your needs, first determine which services you require now and may need in the future. Because the issues facing seniors are diverse, most elder lawyers specialize in a particular area, like estate planning or health care. It’s important to select an elder law attorney who understands your specific requirements in detail.
Also think about the type of attorney that best fits your needs. In addition to traditional elder lawyers, you may wish to consider an elder mediator. Elder mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution, provides a more collaborative way to resolve challenges. It can be especially effective in dynamic family situations that benefit from a less adversarial approach.
Start the process by asking friends, family, and professional resources, like your financial advisor, accountant, or other attorneys, for referrals. Then consider continuing or narrowing your search online. Search directories and browse reviews to gather information and opinions, then create a short list of elder lawyers to contact for an initial consultation. Note that many elder law attorneys charge for the first meeting, so be sure to ask about the fee.
When you meet with an elder law attorney, bring a checklist of questions to make sure you get the information you need. Also think about what information the attorney may need from you, and bring any documents that may be helpful.
It’s important that your lawyer meet your needs “on paper” AND is a good fit for your personality and circumstances. A great elder law attorney should:
• Represent you or your loved one in a sensitive and understanding way
• Advocate for your needs and wishes
• Help ease tough decisions with expertise and empathy
• Communicate clearly, honestly, and effectively
• Make you feel comfortable, safe, and supported
Rely on family and friends to help make this important decision. Ask a trusted person to come with you to meet your elder law attorney, assess any paperwork, and act as a second set of eyes and ears.
Finally, when you’ve found the right provider for elder law services, finalize your arrangement in writing. This may consist of a formal contract or a letter, and should include the services your elder lawyer will provide and the fee structure. Again, ask a friend or family member to review the contract, and make sure you understand its content before signing.