The U.S. has slightly more than 500 CELAs to handle your estate planning, social security, Medicaid, and retirement cases. CELA abbreviates Certified Elderly Law Attorney. This is an attorney that specializes in legal affairs that concern seniors and their adult children.
Finding and elder law attorney is as easy as googling, “elder law attorney near me.” Anyone can find an elderly law attorney, but finding the right one is where things get a tad difficult. If you want your elder law case to be in the right hands, then you might have to do a bit of digging.
Finding the right elder law attorney is difficult, but it’s not impossible. With the right tips, you can find an experienced elder law attorney who is knowledgeable, has the right connections, and fits your budget.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at how you can find the best elder law attorney to take care of your legal matter.
Elder Law Attorney Vs. General Practice Attorney
Technically, a general practice attorney will be able to handle your retirement, Medicaid, and even your estate planning. If a general practice lawyer can take care of business, why go through the trouble of finding an elder law attorney?
We have one word for you, and that’s “specialization.” A general law practice might understand a tiny bit of elder law, but that’s just about it. An elder law lawyer, on the other hand, is deeply entrenched in elder law. This means they have the knowledge and experience to handle any case within the scope of elder law, including but not limited to:-
- Retirement planning
- Long term care planning
- Estate planning
- Veterans’ benefits
Maybe a general practice lawyer can handle one or even two of the above. However, any competent elder law lawyer knows that there’s no single formula in elder law that applies across the board. What may work seamlessly for one client may flop terribly for another.
That’s why you’ll need a lawyer with some level of specialization and understanding to handle your specific situation effectively and meet your specific objectives. We’re not ruling out general practice lawyers, but we think an elder law attorney is best suited for your specific needs.
How to Find the Right Elder Law Attorney
Finding the perfect elder law lawyer is probably harder than you initially thought. However, if you take these few tips to heart, finding the right elder law attorney will be a breeze.
Here’s how you find the perfect elder law attorney.
Start With a Referral
A referral from someone you trust is the perfect place to begin your search for an elder law attorney. You can get a referral from your friends, family, or even your workmates. Get a referral from anyone in your social circle as long as your legal needs align with each other.
Sometimes you don’t even need a referral to an elder law attorney. A referral to any worthy attorney is just as good. Remember, good attorneys from strong networks with other great attorneys, so any good attorney can point you to a great elder law attorney.
You can also look for referrals from financial experts like accountants, financial advisors, and the likes might know a good elder law attorney. Given their experience dealing with cases concerning elder law, they might know one lawyer or two that can help you out.
Seeking a referral is a great way to start your search for an elder law lawyer. If you’re lucky, the first referral might land you a great lawyer for your case. If not, you can check out the second tip.
Look With the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
The National Academy of Elder Attorneys or NAELA is the official body for lawyers who specialize in elder or special needs law. You’ll find more information about the entire organization, including its programs and publications on the website. Also on the website is an attorney finder that you can use to find an elder law lawyer in your area.
Flat Fees Over Hourly Billing
While doing your elder law lawyer search, steer clear from lawyers who charge for their services by the hour. For instance, if you need an elder law attorney Medicaid specialist, they should be able to give you an estimate of the charges after analyzing your case.
This one-time flat fee will cover everything, including any legal costs, phone calls, meetings, and court fees. The lawyer shouldn’t charge you for any calls or any questions you ask throughout the entire process.
This is especially true if you need an elder law lawyer for your estate planning. Remember, you’re putting thousands to millions of dollars at stake with your estate planning. As such, you need your lawyer to be as candid and clear with the process as they can.
Experience Is Everything
When it comes to elder law attorneys, nothing beats good old experience. An experienced lawyer has handled cases similar to yours and understands every nook and cranny of the courtroom.
You are better placed to achieve your goals if you have an experienced lawyer to back your case. Ask any lawyers you want to hire, their experience dealing with similar situations. You can never go wrong with a lawyer with tons of experience.
Check the Attorney’s Credentials
Before you sign any papers, make sure you have a look at the lawyer’s credentials. The state bar association website is a great place to start. All you need is the lawyer’s bar number or name, and you can know from the website whether the lawyer in question is licensed.
The site also contains information on whether the lawyer has had any previous violations before. Make sure you also have a look at all the lawyer’s relevant documents to know what you’re dealing with.
Settle for Nothing But the Best
In your quest for an elder law attorney, remember only the best works for you. Elder law is a convoluted area of law that requires much knowledge and experience to hack. With the tips above, you should be comfortably able to find a worthy elder law lawyer for your case.
Legal processes can be tiresome and downright frustrating. To help you blow off some steam, check out all the other enticing pieces on the site.