FAQ: What Things to Consider When Choosing an Elder Law Attorney in Orange County, CA
Elder law is a broad area of law, encompassing many kinds of law that affect senior citizens and their families. There are several reasons why it is a good idea to work with an attorney if you are dealing with an issue related to elder law, whether you are a senior citizen, or you are taking care of a loved one. Elder law attorneys work in the following areas of law:
• Estate Planning (wills, trusts, etc.)
• Social Security
• Pension Plans
• Financial Planning
• Long Term Care
• Long Term Care Insurance
• Age Discrimination
• Living Wills
• Durable Powers of Attorney
• Conservatorship and Guardianship
• Elder Abuse and Neglect
• Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
• Planning for Special Needs Children or Adults
• Any other legal issue that affects the elderly
Because elder law covers so many different issues that affect the elderly, and these legal issues can affect numerous aspects of a person’s life, from finances to health to the ability to protect oneself to family relationships, it is critical to work with a qualified lawyer who can ensure that plans are created correctly and executed accurately, and that when unexpected issues do arise, those responsible are held accountable.
One elder law attorney may not have experience in every kind of elder law, so when you’re looking for a lawyer that practices elder law, consider all of your needs and potential needs as well as the attorney’s previous experience.
Consider the following tips when you’re looking for the best elder law attorney to represent you or your loved ones during your legal case.
Do I Need an OC California Elder Law Attorney?
Before you start looking for an attorney for your elder law issue, you might wonder, ‘Do I really need a lawyer to deal with my legal issue?’
First of all, every person has the right to legal counsel when dealing with any legal issue in the United States. Lawyers exist because the law can be complex and confusing, especially if you haven’t studied law yourself or if you haven’t studied it recently. Laws are constantly changing and evolving, legal processes are being modernized and computerized, and there are resources, information, and options available to you that may not have existed in the past. Elder law also relates to long-term life plans, and may need to be updated as laws change and as family life and situations change.
A great lawyer will help you understand the law and how it applies to your situation and help you to make decisions in your own best interests. He or she can also help you take advantage of new laws and improve your plans.
An elder law attorney will have specific knowledge related to senior citizens and the elderly population, and they will understand the specific issues that affect this population, like physical and mental health issues or incapacitation.
Elder law attorneys usually work with their clients for extended periods of time, even over decades. This long-term relationship allows for the establishment and maintenance of a trusting relationship, and the lawyer helps throughout all pieces of the legal process. A great long-term attorney helps through planning, education, counseling, and advocating for the client for a variety of elder law issues.
Many of the issues that affect the aging population are difficult to tackle on your own, whether you are a senior citizen, or you are caring for a loved one.
Elder Abuse and Neglect
For example, if an elderly person is facing abuse in a nursing home, the elder person and the nursing home employees will likely try to cover up the evidence. Concerns of abuse or neglect are serious, and a great lawyer will be able to help you uncover the evidence that you need to build your case.
A senior citizen who faces financial abuse may not be aware that he or she is being taken advantage of. A lawyer will be able to find evidence, build a case, and right the wrong. All it takes is one person to notice that a problem exists and contact a legal professional.
Creating an estate plan may seem like a simple task, especially with all of the do it yourself kits available on the Internet. When it’s time to put a will into action, even the smallest mistakes can lead to extensive probate, fights among family members, and invalidated documents. Your lawyer can also help you find the best way to pass on your assets and property without going through intense probate processes or paying huge taxes. The best way to make sure that your estate plan is done correctly and that your wishes will be followed is to work with a qualified attorney.
What is the Attorney’s Experience in Elder Law?
An estate plan is something that can benefit every adult. It should be updated with major life changes, like marriages, divorces, births, adoptions, and deaths. If you are planning your estate, you’ll want to work with an attorney with whom you are comfortable forming a long-term relationship. You will benefit more from a lawyer who has previous experience in estate planning, and one who you can trust to uphold your wants and needs. An estate planning lawyer will be able to provide you with advice on how to plan for your physical and digital property, assets, and debts when you can no longer do so.
In addition to planning how to handle your things when you can no longer do so, an elder law lawyer can help you decide how to make medical decisions in the case that you become incapacitated.
Other elder law attorneys have more experience working with elderly people who didn’t make a plan, or who didn’t make one in time, but who currently need one. These lawyers might spend more time working with the family and loved ones of an elderly person than with the elderly person.
Some elder law attorneys have more experience taking care of elderly people who have been taken advantage of. Nursing home employees, financial professionals, door-to-door salespeople, family members who are supposed to manage the finances of an elderly person, caregivers, and others may take advantage of an elderly person in several ways. If any person is physically or mentally abusing a senior citizen, failing to provide necessary care, illegally using or abusing the person’s finances, or otherwise taking advantage, an attorney can step in and right the situation.
Depending on what kind of situation you’re dealing with, you will benefit from an attorney whose experience matches the kind of legal assistance you need.
Is the Elder Law Attorney Willing to Work with What You Need?
Any attorney, not just an elder law attorney, has his or her own way of doing things. You, as the client, will have certain needs and expectations for your lawyer. Elder law attorneys are likely to form long term relationships with clients, so in addition to being comfortable spending time with your lawyer, it’s important that he or she considers your needs.
Schedule a meeting with a potential attorney before hiring him or her. At the first meeting, you should ask some questions so that you can get to know the lawyer and his or her style.
Ask about the lawyer’s experience with cases like yours. What has happened in the past? Was the attorney successful? What would he or she have done differently on a case that went wrong?
Ask what the attorney suggests that you do first in your case. How does he or she see the case progressing?
Know your budget. Ask if the attorney is willing to work within your budget. What can you afford? What kinds of payment does the attorney accept? Does he or she offer payment plans?
You are hiring an attorney. How big is the law firm? Will the lawyer be working with you the entire time, or will you be working with paralegals and assistants?
Where is The Elder Law Lawyer Located?
Sometimes, an elderly person moves from his or her own home into the home of a family member or into a care facility. Sometimes, families are local, and sometimes, they are spread out across the state or around the country.
Consider who will be working with the attorney, where the elderly person will live, and which local laws might apply to your legal issues. An attorney may be able to help you decide which area you should be looking at for your free initial consultation if you aren’t sure.
One of the benefits of working with a local attorney is that if you do end up in court or working with other professionals, a local attorney will know all of the local laws as well as the local judges and court clerks.
Orange County Elder Law Attorney
Elder law attorneys can help you through a variety of complex legal issues in California. Depending on your needs, one attorney may be able to help you more effectively than another. If you have questions about any area of elder law, contact the lawyers at Yanez & Associates today to schedule your free initial consultation!