Elder law attorneys are attorneys that specialize in legal matters affecting senior citizens. Elder law attorneys are dedicated to helping seniors in areas such as estate planning and Medicare qualification. Becoming an elder care attorney requires certain qualifications and certification. Seniors can benefit greatly from consulting with an attorney that has these qualifications before taking action regarding legal matters.
Elder Law Areas
The specific area of law that elder attorneys assist with varies from case to case based on the needs of the client. Cases may be highly complex due to the condition of the clients. Elder attorneys are sensitive to the complexities that may affect any given case. Elder attorneys are often involved with networks that assist seniors with care, as these networks are a great resource for information when dealing with highly specialized cases.
Clients may seek the assistance of elder law attorneys when dealing with the following types of issues:
- Applying for Medicare coverage
- Appointing guardianship
- Appointing power of attorney or fiduciary
- Drafting a will or estate planning
- Moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility
- Researching nursing home rights
- Filing claims against nursing homes
- Planning long term care for self or spouse
Client Condition and Elder Law
Elder law attorneys understand that client conditions may affect the client’s ability to handle legal situations. Elder law attorneys sympathize with clients in these situations and will represent the client to ensure that the situation is handled in the best interests of the client. Elder law attorneys have both the medical and legal knowledge pertinent to resolving these challenges.
Florida Elder Law Certification
In Florida, elder law attorneys must be members in good standing of the Florida Bar. Elder law attorneys must also have been practicing law for at least five years. Approximately 40 percent of the law practice must come from elder law cases. If these qualifications are met, the attorney can submit an application to become certified in elder law. Upon approval of the application, the attorney must pass a written exam and peer review.
National Elder Law Certification
Elder law qualifications may vary from state to state. However, the National Elder Law Foundation provides Board Certification for attorneys across the country that wish to seek certification. The letters CELA following an attorney’s name signify that the attorney has been certified by the National Elder Law Foundation.
Finding an Elder Law Attorney in Orlando
Elder law attorneys can be found online or through referrals. It is not difficult to investigate an elder law attorney’s qualifications. Certain databases, such as the National Elder Law Foundation and the Florida Bar Association have directories for attorneys that are certified in elder law. Testimonials may also be a helpful way to determine the attorney’s previous success and experience with similar cases.
Elder Law Attorney Questions
Clients generally work with elder law attorneys on one specific area of law, so it is important for clients to ask if an attorney specializes in that area. Clients may also wish to ask elder law attorneys how long elder law has been practiced at the firm and what percentage of time is devoted to elder law to ensure competency and experience. Since elder law attorneys often work with clients for years on matters of estate planning or daily care, it is important for clients to feel comfortable with the attorney’s knowledge in the area and with the attorney’s overall demeanor. Questions should be prepared in advance and specifically geared towards identifying these traits and qualifications.
Hiring an Elder Law Attorney in Florida
Before hiring an elder law attorney, clients should meet with the attorney. After establishing the attorney’s aptitude and sensitivity to the client’s specific needs and conditions, the attorney will need documents and information pertinent to the legal issues for which the client hopes to hire an attorney. Clients should be sure to have this information ready and available to make the process of hiring the attorney smoother. Having this information at the initial meeting may also allow the attorney to provide more specific information regarding the processes and next steps necessary for the particular matter.
“Becoming a CELA.” National Elder Law Foundation. National Elder Law Foundation. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <http://www.nelf.org/becoming-a-cela>
“What Is an Elder Law Attorney?” Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, Inc. Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, Inc., 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <http://www.agingcarefl.org/what-is-an-elder-law-attorney/>
“Why an Elder Law or Special Needs Law Attorney.” National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. Web. 17 Oct. 2014. <http://www.naela.org/Public/About/Consumers/Why_and_Elder_Law_Attorney_is_a_Good_Choice/Public/About_NAELA/Fact_Sheets/Why_an_Elder_Law_Attorney_is_a_Good_Choice.aspx?hkey=6569dbbe-5362-4cfa-8752-bd890a8a6ec1>