With a simple Google search for an “elder law attorney”, Google returns 142,000,000 results in 0.78 seconds. Going through these results to find the right elder law attorney for you will take a lot of time, and not all elder law attorneys will be the right fit for you. To help in your search for the perfect elder law attorney for your family, we put together these guidelines to help learn more about elder law attorneys and how they can help you.
How an Elder Law Attorney Can Help You
As we age, we face very important decisions about where to live, our care, and what will happen to us at the end. Elder law attorneys help guide older and disabled adults through these issues and legal considerations. They can help their clients with:
- Discussing and drafting wills and estate plans, including plans for minors or adults with special needs, probate, and creating durable powers of attorney.
- Assisting with Guardianship, a court proceeding where a guardian is selected to handle the legal rights of an incapable or incapacitated person.
- Assisting with Guardianship Advocacy, a court proceeding under the Florida Statutes that gives family members, caregivers, or friends of a person with a developmental disability the legal authority to act on their behalf.
- Assisting with Probate and the many details that require your attention when a loved one passes away.
Elder Law Attorneys Are Not Created Equal
Just like every person has their own unique qualities, every elder law attorney has her or his own qualities that make their firm successful. Make sure the elder law attorney that you hire focuses on the areas that are most important to you. Here are some key questions to ask:
- When did you start practicing law?
- What state are you licensed to practice?
- What areas within elder law do you focus on most?
- What percentage of your clients are elder law clients?
- What professional organizations do you belong to?
- Do you represent your clients before the courts?
- How do you calculate your fees?
You will also want to ask what areas of elder law the attorney focuses. Seniors and their families will be affected by legal and financial issues. In addition to wills, trusts, guardianship, powers of attorney, some elder law attorneys can also assist with long term care options and public benefits planning, i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, and SSDI. Ensuring your attorney has a basic understanding of the tax implications of these matters is also very important.
What to Bring to the Initial Consultation
When you request the initial consultation, be sure to ask if there is a fee for the initial consultation and what you should bring with you to the first appointment. Here are some of the things you may be asked to bring with you:
- Income sources for you and your spouse
- Information about your dependents
- Statements from bank accounts and retirement accounts
- Statements for mortgages and property taxes
- Previous estate planning documents (wills, trusts, power of attorney, etc.)
- Health insurance documents, including long term care disability and life insurance policies
- A summary of assets including cars, possessions, expected inheritances
- A summary of debts
Find Out if We Are the Right Fit for You
If you are looking for an elder law attorney, elder law is a core focus for our firm. Our founder, Lisa DiFranza serves as an estate planning and elder law attorney for families in Jacksonville, FL and throughout the State. She assists with Guardianship, Guardianship Advocacy, Probate, Estate Planning, Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney. She is an active member of the Elder Law and Real Property & Probate Law Section of the Florida Bar Association and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. She is admitted to practice in the Florida Courts and the US District Court, Middle District of Florida.