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  • John Aigner

Vetting and Selecting an Elder Law Attorney

Updated: Mar 20, 2023


Introduction

Let's face it, finding the right elder law attorney, for some, might be as overwhelming as finding that perfect pair of jeans. It's all about the right fit, the right style, and the right level of comfort.

Whether you're planning for your own future or assisting an elderly family member, selecting an elder law attorney is an essential step to ensure your best interests are protected. So, how do you find that perfect match? Buckle up, because we're about to dive into a chatty guide on finding an elder law attorney you're comfortable with.

  1. Know what you need: Define your requirements

Before you start your search, it's crucial to have a clear understanding of your needs. Elder law is a broad field, encompassing everything from estate planning and wills to long-term care planning and elder abuse cases. Make a list of your specific requirements, and use that as your roadmap when seeking out potential attorneys. This will help narrow your search and ensure you're not wasting time on a lawyer who specializes in an area unrelated to your needs.

2. Do your homework: Research and referrals

Now that you've got your list in hand, it's time to do some detective work. Ask friends, family, and acquaintances for recommendations. Chances are, someone you know has worked with an elder law attorney in the past. Personal referrals are golden because they provide real-life experiences with attorneys and can help you get a better idea of what to expect.

But don't stop there! Take your search online and read reviews and testimonials. Check out local bar associations and online directories, like the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) or your state's bar association website. These resources can help you locate attorneys in your area who specialize in elder law.

3. The First Date: Schedule consultations

You wouldn't marry someone after just one date, right? The same principle applies to selecting an attorney. Once you have a list of potential candidates, it's time to schedule consultations. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, giving you the opportunity to assess their expertise and compatibility.

During the consultation, be prepared with a list of questions. Inquire about their experience, specific areas of specialization, and how they handle cases similar to yours. Don't be shy about discussing fees and billing practices, either. You want to have a clear understanding of costs upfront to avoid any surprises later on.

4. Trust your gut, comfort matters: Pay attention to your instincts

You know that little voice inside your head that tells you when something feels off? Listen to it! Trust your instincts during the consultation. If you feel uncomfortable or don't have a good rapport with the attorney, they may not be the best fit for you. Remember, you'll be working closely with this person on sensitive matters, so it's essential to feel at ease and establish a strong line of communication.

5. Sleep on it: Take your time

Finding the perfect elder law attorney is not a race. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate before making a decision. If you're unsure, don't hesitate to schedule follow-up consultations or seek additional references. This is an important decision, so give yourself the time and space to make the right choice.

6. Get personal: Assess their communication style

How an attorney communicates with you is just as important as their knowledge and expertise. Do they speak in plain language, or do they use complicated legal jargon that leaves you feeling lost? A great elder law attorney will break down complex concepts and make sure you understand every aspect of your case. Assess their communication style during the consultation, and consider whether it aligns with your preferences.

7. Size matters: Consider the firm's size and resources

When selecting an elder law attorney, it's important to consider the size and resources of the firm they belong to. Larger firms often have more resources and a broader range of expertise, but they may also come with higher fees and a more impersonal experience. Smaller firms or solo practitioners may provide more personalized attention, but they might have limited resources or be overwhelmed with their caseload.

Think about your needs and preferences when evaluating the size of a firm. If you prefer a more intimate working relationship with your attorney, a smaller firm might be a better fit. If you need extensive resources or have a particularly complex case, a larger firm might be the way to go.

8. Check the track record: Look for experience and success

An attorney's track record can speak volumes about their skills and expertise. When researching potential elder law attorneys, look for those who have a history of successful outcomes in cases similar to yours. Ask the attorney about their past experiences and any noteworthy cases they've handled. A proven track record can instill confidence in your decision and help you feel more comfortable with your choice.

9. Make it official: Sign the retainer agreement

Once you've found an elder law attorney you're comfortable with, it's time to make it official. You'll need to sign a retainer agreement, which outlines the terms of your working relationship, including fees, services, and expectations. Read this document carefully, and ask any questions you may have before signing. This is a crucial step in establishing a solid foundation for your partnership with your attorney.

10. Stay involved: Maintain open communication

Finding the right elder law attorney is just the beginning of your journey. It's important to maintain open communication with your attorney throughout the process. Regularly check in, ask questions, and voice any concerns you may have. A successful attorney-client relationship is built on trust and communication, so don't be afraid to stay involved and take an active role in your case.

Conclusion

Selecting an elder law attorney you're comfortable with is a crucial step in safeguarding your future or that of a loved one. By following these steps and trusting your instincts, you can find an attorney who not only has the expertise to handle your case but also makes you feel supported and at ease. Take your time, do your research, and trust that you'll find the perfect fit for your unique needs. Happy attorney hunting!

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