It may seem very easy to open a phone book or search the internet for a name of an elder law attorney; however, finding the RIGHT one that fits your needs actually will require some research.
Over a cup of coffee, I met with a friend and colleague to discuss how exactly do you chose the right Elder Law attorney. According to Elder Law attorney, Ed Smith of Southwest Florida Estate Planning, (www.southwestfloridaelderlaw.com), there are some key factors involved in selecting the right elder law attorney. These include:
Seek a referral/recommendation. Talk with your friends, your financial advisor, your accountant, your family attorney and your anyone else that may know of an elder law attorney.
Evaluate the credentials. Attorneys must be licensed in the state that they are practicing law and must be registered by the Bar Association of that specific state. In addition, Elder Law attorneys can be members of National Elder Law consortiums, such as ElderCounsel (www.eldercounsel.com) or NAELA (www.naela.org) which can be a resource to use for credentials and overall information. Attorneys can also become Board Certified or maintain other awards which can assist with learning about the attorney’s credentials.
It’s all about the relationship. Utilizing the services of an elder law attorney is very personal. It is important that you trust that your attorney is looking after your best interests. Many attorneys can provide you the end result, however a good elder law attorney will present you with a number of options to help solve your situation. Empathy is an important consideration as well. Your attorney should truly understand your situation and have a genuine interest in helping you.
Understand the fee structure. Some attorneys will charge hourly while others will charge a flat rate. It is important to know this upfront and be comfortable with the arrangement. A flat rate might appear a bit high at first, however you won’t be nickel and dimed for every 5-minute phone call you make. The scope of work should be defined as well terms should be clear should you want to terminate the agreement.
There are many types of attorneys, however an Elder Law attorney specializes in Medicaid and Long term planning, veteran benefits, and other special need and government assistance planning. An Elder Law attorney is not a financial planner but should be willing to work with your financial planner and CPA to help you develop a solid plan for your future.
A good elder law attorney should help understand your current status and have an open discussion about what you want to accomplish in the end. You and your attorney should openly discuss goals, objectives, as well as pros and cons of certain approaches.
Practice focuses on comprehensive wealth transfer planning, asset preservation, probate and trust administration, federal transfer tax and elder law.
Steve Kotler is AV preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest peer review rating for both legal ability and professional ethics granted by the over 140 year old publication. Steve has been selected as a Florida Super lawyer in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. Steve has been named as Florida Trend Legal Elite and U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyer. Steve has a Avvo rating of 10.0. Steve is am accredited attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Florida Bar Board Certified in Wills, Trusts and Estates
Estate law, elder planning, guardianship and long term care consulting
We are an elder law and estate consulting firm with over 25 years experience handling unique situations pertaining to seniors
Ed is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest peer review rating for both legal ability and professional ethics granted by the 140 year old publication. Ed was named a Florida Super Lawyer in the category of Estate Planning and Probate in the annual Florida Super Lawyers from 2007 through 2016 editions of “Law and Politics.”