Choosing an elder law attorney is an important decision that involves considering various factors to find the best fit for your needs. Here are some steps to help you select an elder law attorney:
- Identify Your Needs: – Determine the specific elder law issues you need assistance with. Elder law covers a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid and Medicare issues, guardianship, and more.
- Seek Recommendations: – Ask friends, family members, or colleagues if they have worked with or know of reputable elder law attorneys. Personal recommendations can be valuable.
- Consult Professional Associations: – Check professional organizations, such as the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), which have directories of qualified elder law attorneys. These organizations often have rigorous membership requirements.
- Research Online: – Use online resources to research elder law attorneys in your area. Look at their websites to learn about their areas of expertise, experience, and client reviews if available.
- Interview Multiple Attorneys: – Schedule initial consultations with several elder law attorneys. Many attorneys offer free or low-cost initial consultations. Use this opportunity to discuss your situation, ask questions, and gauge your comfort level with each attorney.
- Ask Relevant Questions: – During the consultations, ask questions to assess the attorney’s qualifications and approach. Some questions to consider include:
– How long have you been practicing elder law?
– What specific areas of elder law do you focus on?
– Have you worked on cases similar to mine?
– Can you provide references from past clients?
– What are your fees, billing practices, and payment options?
– How do you stay updated on changes in elder law regulations and policies?
- Evaluate Communication Skills: – Pay attention to how well the attorney communicates with you. Elder law matters often involve complex legal concepts, and you should feel comfortable asking questions and receiving clear, understandable explanations.
- Consider Personal Compatibility: – Choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable discussing sensitive and personal matters. A strong attorney-client relationship is crucial for effective collaboration.
- Check Credentials and Reputation: – Verify the attorney’s credentials, including their education, licensing, and any special certifications in elder law. You can often find this information on their website or through your state’s bar association.
- Review Written Agreements: – Before hiring an attorney, carefully review any written agreements, including fee arrangements and engagement letters. Make sure you understand the terms and fees involved.
- Trust Your Instincts: – Ultimately, trust your instincts and choose the attorney who best aligns with your goals, values, and comfort level.
- Consult References: – Contact references provided by the attorney to get insights into their past clients’ experiences and satisfaction with their services.
Remember that elder law attorneys should have a deep understanding of the unique legal and financial issues facing older individuals and their families. Take your time in making your decision to ensure you find an attorney who is knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated to helping you navigate the complexities of elder law effectively.
The law office of elder law attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., is located in Wyomissing (outside of Reading, PA, in Berks County,) and offers trusted legal services in the areas of elder law, including nursing home planning, trust and estate services, and veterans benefits. Scott C. Painter is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®), and he is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).
If you have an issue or question, we encourage you to call us. With legal matters, time is of the essence. Call us for a consultation at 610-378-5140. The $300 consultation fee is waived if Attorney Painter is retained to perform services.