* Partner Post
Elder law refers to the area of law that specializes in the issues most senior citizens face. It usually includes long-term healthcare, housing, age-related concerns about health, asset management, drafting wills and trusts, retirement, social security, etc. Interestingly, it is a rare field of law where attorneys are rarely in court. The majority of it involves transactional work. For example – lawyers practicing elder law engage in drafting wills and testaments, making estate plans and gift tax or death tax frequently. They rarely need to go to court or attend litigation, unless their case involves an instance of elder abuse, legal disputes, etc.
Some parts of the elder law do not require an attorney. You can work on your living trust, last will and testament, and healthcare power of attorney (PoA) through the DIY forms online. Although the process is very time consuming, it is possible for a person without a legal background to complete these procedures on their own. However, it is always a smart idea to counsel with an elder law attorney or an estate lawyer before closing matters. Each decision you make will have profound impacts on your family and loved ones. Besides, they need to be legally binding to be valid. So, don't waste any time and consult with an estate planning and elder law firm as soon as possible.
Do you need an elder law attorney?
You can think of all elder law practitioners as specialists. Just like a geriatrician, who is a doctor with the training to address the unique healthcare needs of senior citizens, an elder law attorney has trained to address the legal requirements of older people. However, people are unsure of the time they need to call upon the service of an estate planning and elder law attorney. We will help you evaluate your situation and help you assess your need for one right here, by first telling you how they can help you –
- They can help you understand the requirement of a will and testament. They will explain the difference between the two and outline the requirements as per your unique needs.
- The attorney can also guide you with estate planning. It includes planning for the future of a minor in your family or a special needs person, who might need long-term financial care and healthcare.
- The lawyer will help you set up trusts for the minors and special needs member(s) of your family. He or she will guide you through detailed financial planning including giving durable financial PoA.
- They will help with the selection and appointment of guardians for any minor in your family.
- Any form of income management, asset liquidation intentions, and gift tax management is within the purview of the elder law attorney's work.
- They will also help you find long-term homes, elder care facilities and senior assisted living facilities near you. If you are worried about incurring costs, do not worry. The attorney should be able to help you manage your expenses and balance them out against your assets.
- The attorneys also take the responsibility of explaining the residents their rights. If the residents need to file claims, they can approach elder law professionals.
- They also help with the drafting of a living will and several advance directives. They help with setting up PoAs, in all situations.
Apart from these, you can also expect your attorney to guide you through estate assessment. Typically, the professional asks about the client's preferences and goals before giving legal advice. Although it is a common belief that people over the age of 65 require elderly law attorneys, it should not stop you from planning a secure future for your spouse, children, and grandchildren today. You can speak with elder law and estate planning attorney in advance to learn about the changes you should make in your lifestyle, savings, and estate to accommodate a better financial future.
A few questions that can help you find a reliable elderly law and estate planning, attorney
Today, finding an elder law attorney, who also specializes in estate planning, is relatively easier than it was before. You can search on Google and third-party law databases for the details of such qualified professionals in your locality. Always double-check their credentials before you hire them. It is advisable to speak with them over the phone before you set a formal meeting. It is tough to judge a law professional from the first meet, but here are a few questions that can help you find out a lot more than what meets the eyes –
- How long has the person been practicing law? What prompted him to take up estate planning and elder laws?
- How much experience do they have in estate planning for seniors? What certifications do they have for it?
- How much time do they devote for elder law and how much to estate planning?
- What are the details about your property, assets and bank accounts he or she asks for the first meeting? (A lawyer without enough credentials and reviews should raise a red flag immediately).
- How does he or she charge their fee?
While choosing a lawyer, you need to be extremely cautious. Since you are looking for someone, who can help you distribute your assets among your loved ones in your absence, you need someone trustworthy. It is difficult to trust any stranger you have met on the internet, but scores of certifications and documents help. Recommendations from friends and family assist more in finding a lawyer you can genuinely trust. Otherwise, go with a local attorney with a solid reputation and experience.
In most situations, the legal professionals charge by the hour. There are a few instances when the attorney has charged a flat fee as per agreement. However, if your estate is large and you will need the services of an expert the nature of work including filing documents, drafting wills, reviewing and signing papers, filing tax returns will determine the fee he or she will charge at the end of the session. For an extended period of service, you might consider getting him or her on retainer.