While growing old can be a rewarding experience, it often poses several legal challenges regarding healthcare, housing, financial well-being, and long-term care. That’s why you need a reputable elder law attorney in your corner.
Elder law attorneys are specially trained to navigate the complex waters of aging. They can help seniors or their caregivers handle a range of issues, such as:
- Tax planning
- Disability planning
- Administration of estate
- Nursing home placement
- Establishing guardianship/conservatorship
Besides, many elder law attorneys also have connections with social workers, geriatric care managers, and other professionals who can assist elders with their needs.
Here’s How to Find a Skilled Elder Law Attorney
It may be tempting to open a phone book or consult the first attorney who shows up on your search results, but picking a competent elder law attorney requires research. In this post, we will walk you through seven tips you should consider when looking to hire an elder law attorney in Layton.
1. Seek Referrals and Recommendations
Elder law attorneys often deal with assets you (or your aging loved one) have spent years collecting. Hence, you want someone you can trust completely.
In this regard, an easy way to find a credible attorney is to seek referrals.
A reliable recommendation can come from someone who knows an elder law attorney or has personally used their services in the past. Talk to your friends, co-workers, family, financial advisors, or family law attorneys about any elder law specialists in their network. Remember to inquire about the lawyer’s work ethic, communication skills, and level of expertise.
Testimonials are another great source of dependable legal services. Visit neutral third-party review sites to see what past clients have to say about the elder law attorney. If most of the feedback is positive, chances are the lawyer is skilled at their job.
2. Always Check Credentials
In today’s day and age, there’s no excuse for hiring a lawyer without running a background check first. An attorney’s credentials, combined with their track record/reputation, will tell you if they are worth your time and money.
To look into a lawyer’s credentials, you could consider calling them directly, contacting your local bar association, or reaching out to court staff. Be sure to look beyond their promotional materials to get an unbiased picture of their legal education.
3. Schedule a Consultation
Virtual communication is fine, but you won’t know who you’re working with until you’re both in the same room. That’s why it’s crucial to meet your lawyer in person before signing the dotted line.
Once your initial research is done, narrow down your list of candidates to the top three and call to schedule consultations. Most attorneys for elder law will meet you for a brief period without charging a fee.
When you arrive at the office, note whether the location is convenient and whether you feel comfortable in the space. Also, see if the elder law attorney treats you any differently when you discuss your case in person.
A word of advice. Take notes during and after each meeting to remember how you felt about them. Later, you can review these notes to make your final decision.
4. Evaluate Their Customer Service
Legal issues concerning the elderly can be quite stressful. Given the sensitivity of subjects like wills, trusts, and inheritance (among other things), it’s best to hire someone professional, attentive, compassionate, and personable.
After the first few interactions with a potential elder law attorney in Utah, ask yourself the following.
- How quickly did they respond to your calls and emails?
- What’s their tone like?
- Were they patient? Or did they make you feel ignored or snubbed?
- Do they follow through with their promises?
Answers to these questions will help you analyze the lawyer’s customer service quality. In case you feel like the attorney didn’t listen to you or pushed a course of action that you disagreed with, treat it as a red flag and get a second opinion.
5. Analyze Their Payment Structure
Most certified elder law attorneys have a few different fee structures, including:
- Contingency Fees: The lawyer receives a percentage of your final settlement
- Flat Fee: This is a set amount for simple services like drafting a will or filing a non-contested divorce
- Hourly Rate: A set fee charged per hour, where the final amount is based on the number of hours worked
- Retainer: an upfront fee. Lawyers usually use this to pay for expenses associated with your case (for example, investigations)
Needless to say, you must know how your lawyer bills right out the gate so that you know when and how much to pay. Remember to have this conversation before trusting the attorney with your case. Otherwise, you might end up facing some unpleasant surprises down the line.
6. Steer Clear of Flattery
A competent elder law attorney in Utah will be honest about the possible outcome of your case: no matter how bleak it may seem. Don’t fall for a lawyer who actively flatters your expectations. They might be inexperienced or just in it for the money.
7. Always Listen to Your Gut
Although you’ll use logic to evaluate all your candidates on your list of attorneys for elder law, don’t ignore your gut. If you have a great feeling about one attorney you’ve consulted, then it’s probably a sign that you’ve made the right choice.
The same goes for negative feelings. You might not be able to put your finger on it, but if something about a lawyer doesn’t sit right with you, don’t hesitate to move on. There are thousands of elder law attorneys, so it makes perfect sense to keep looking until you find someone you feel good about.
The Bottom Line
Hiring an elder law attorney is a critical decision. You want someone who can understand and relate to your unique situation. Follow these tips, and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’ve made an excellent choice!
Or, you can skip the search and consult Jeremy Atwood Law LLC. We offer a full range of legal services, including elder and family law, bankruptcy, and contract law. Call us today to talk to one of our seasoned elder law attorneys in Layton!