As we age, there are important legal issues for seniors to consider in terms of health, wealth, and even family situations. Each of these areas may benefit from the assistance of an elder law attorney. If you’ve never utilized the expertise of this type of attorney, you may be unfamiliar with all of the legal services they can offer. Here are some things to consider if you need an elder law attorney in Florida.

What is an Elder Law Attorney?

An elder law attorney is a lawyer who specializes in helping individuals and families with an aging loved one. Their expertise covers a wide range of potential issues including health care, long-term care planning, guardianship, retirement, public benefits, etc. In addition, they assist with trusts, wills, probate, and probate avoidance. Elder law attorneys can draft important legal documents that may be needed such as durable powers of attorney, advance directives, and living wills.

When Should I Hire an Elder Law Attorney?

While there is no specific age for hiring an elder law attorney, it is recommended that you begin preparing important legal documents and advocating for the wishes of your estate as you age. When you hire an elder care attorney it allows you to protect your finances, navigate elder law issues regarding your estate, and have an advocate who can assist in family decisions or disputes.

Even if you or your aging family member has not encountered difficult health and/or end-of-life concerns, beginning your planning ahead of time can help ensure that your wishes will be followed and the impact of probate and court delays will be minimized. Establishing a relationship with an elder law attorney early means that you will have someone who knows your wishes for any life issues that may occur in the future. Ultimately, this type of preparation helps protect your family and your assets after your passing.

What Types of Questions Should I Ask an Elder Law Attorney?

There is a lot of specialization among attorneys. And even amongst elder law attorneys, they may have a specific specialty within the elder law field, such as Medicaid and VA planning. You want to ensure that the attorney you choose to hire for your loved one specializes in the kind of legal assistance that is relevant to your situation. Some questions to ask may include:

  • How long have you practiced law?
  • How much time do you devote to elder law?
  • Do you have a specific emphasis on elder law?
  • What information should I bring with me to our initial meeting?
  • How do you bill your clients?

What is the Difference Between Estate Planning and Elder Law?

Estate planning and elder law often get confused with one another because of the overlap that exists between establishing what happens to your money when you die (estate planning) and managing your money while you are alive but older and/or in poor health (elder law). While different, estate planning and elder law often go hand-in-hand because elder law attorneys are experts at estate planning.

If you need an elder law attorney, we can help. At The Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. we understand the nuances of the law related to the care and concerns common for older adults and can help you think through the many concerns that may arise. To effectively plan for the wishes you want to be carried out, contact us today.

 

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October 2021, but has been updated for freshness and accuracy.