Elder Law encompasses the unique legal aspects of aging. An Elder Law Attorney is familiar with the federal and Florida laws that impact a senior's well-being and personal wishes.
Elder Law covers
including guardianship, estate planning (wills and trusts, powers of attorney and advanced directives), Medicaid, Medicare, veterans benefits, and long term care issues, as well as probate and trust administration.
Many elder law attorneys also assist families who have children or other loved ones with disabilities.
Elder law attorneys deal with a myriad of issues that can range in complexity. It is important to ensure that the appropriate attorney is hired who has the legal knowledge and the ability to quickly adapt to changing situations.
How do you help ensure you or your family member hires the best attorney for the circumstances?
- Examine the attorney's qualifications before contacting them. Review the law firm's web site and ask others you trust to provide a recommendation, if possible.
- Ask the attorney's firm for their qualifications in writing. This should be honored by the firm without hesitation.
- Review the Florida Bar's website for any disciplinary history against the attorney you are considering. The bar reports an attorney's disciplinary history for ten years.
- Ask whether the attorney has a consultation fee. Most elder law attorneys do charge such a fee, while other types of attorneys, like personal injury, do not.
- Make sure your representation is clearly set forth in writing with a signed retainer agreement. This should describe the services the attorney will and will not do and should include the fee charged and provisions for any additional fees. The retainer agreement will also tell you whether an upfront fee is required and to what extent any portion is refundable.
- You can get a second opinion any time if you don't have a good feeling about the job your attorney is doing. Remember that the attorney works for you. If you would get a second opinion for your medical health, why not for your legal health?
- You have a right to complain to the Florida Bar. If you suspect your attorney has acted unethically or if you believe your attorney has failed to fulfill your agreement or provided the services requested, and you want to file a complaint, you can report the attorney to the Bar. You can visit the the Bar's Attorney Consumer Assistance Program or call toll-free (866-352-0707).
As members of the Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys, we aspire to high standards of ethics and professionalism and we strive to provide legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of seniors and those with special needs.