When faced with the need for an elder law attorney, it’s natural to feel uncertain and overwhelmed. Whether you’re seeking assistance for a parent or a loved one dealing with declining health, understanding the elder law planning process is crucial. To ensure the most effective outcome, it’s essential to know what your attorney will require from you. This article aims to provide insights into the process, emphasizing the importance of communication and cooperation between you and your attorney.
Essential Factors for Successful Elder Law Planning
Elder law planning goes beyond the creation of specific legal documents like wills or trusts. While these tools are essential, they serve as means to achieve specific goals. To effectively plan for your unique circumstances, your attorney needs comprehensive information about you, your family, your assets, and your objectives. By thoroughly understanding these factors, your attorney can recommend suitable legal strategies and documentation tailored to your needs.
Preparing for the Initial Meeting
When scheduling your initial meeting with an elder law attorney, expect to be asked to complete an intake questionnaire. The form’s contents may vary depending on whether your situation is an urgent “crisis” case or a more traditional planning scenario. Regardless of the specifics, these forms typically inquire about your children’s or other important family members’ names, ages, and contact information. Additionally, you’ll be required to provide a detailed list of your assets, including their ownership status (individual, joint, or payable at death via a beneficiary designation). Proper asset titling is crucial, as any errors can derail your estate plans.
Understanding Attorney Fees
It’s important to note that elder law attorneys may charge a fee for the initial consultation. Unlike personal injury or medical malpractice attorneys who often work on a contingency basis, elder law attorneys operate differently. The advice and work provided by elder law attorneys require direct payment from clients. While it might be surprising, remember that this is necessary for running a successful elder law practice. The value provided during the initial consultation can sometimes be enough to resolve your issue.
Prepare for the Consultation
Make the most of your initial consultation by coming prepared with a written list of questions and concerns. Expect the attorney to inquire about the specifics of your situation, whether it’s a crisis or proactive planning matter. In the case of Medicaid crisis planning, the attorney will need detailed information regarding your health issues and, if applicable, your spouse’s. The lawyer will also review your income and asset information, including any gifts made within the past five years. All these details are vital for determining Medicaid eligibility.
In proactive estate planning matters, the attorney will focus on understanding your planning goals, the dynamics within your family, and any relevant strengths and weaknesses of your children or other family members. It is crucial to be candid and provide all necessary information, such as mental illness, addiction issues, troubled marriages, or spendthrift tendencies. By doing so, your attorney can offer the most informed advice.
Fee Structure and Plan of Action
At the end of the consultation, your attorney will discuss a recommended plan of action and provide a fee quote for the projected work. Many elder law attorneys charge flat fees for planning work instead of hourly rates. This approach ensures cost certainty for clients and encourages open communication with the attorney. After all, few things are as annoying as unexpected bills for routine communications.
Embrace the Planning Process
To achieve a successful outcome, it is crucial to fully engage in your attorney’s planning process. You’re hiring an attorney with expertise, experience, and the necessary resources to handle your planning needs. However, your attorney cannot do it alone. Your active involvement and cooperation are essential. Remember, your planning won’t work if your attorney cares about it more than you do!
For more information about elder law planning and how it can benefit you, visit Garrity Traina. Our team of experienced elder law attorneys is ready to assist you in creating a comprehensive plan for your future. Let us guide you through this important journey.