According to Albert Einstein, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” These become important words to remember for anyone facing an ever-increasing complexity of Elder Law issues. “Elder Law” and “Elder Law Attorney” are broadly and loosely defined terms, which unfortunately adds to challenges faced today by seniors and their adult children who may be suddenly charged with managing health care, home care, Medicare, senior living, estate planning, wills and trusts, real estate, Power of Attorney, Living Wills, depression, Guardianship and abuse. Any or all of these issues (and more) can be inter-related and initiated by a sudden event or over a few short years, especially if the family is experiencing onset of Alzheimer’s Disease.
As recently covered in a Graham Whatley blog on the relationship between Estate Planning and Probate, we are now experiencing the unprecedented, greatest exchange of wealth and property in history, as “The Silent Generation” (born 1925 to ’42) are transferring estates and care-giving responsibilities to “Baby Boomers” (born 1943 to ’64), and as the Boomers are simultaneously transferring responsibilities of wealth and health to Generation X and Millennials. The immensity and long-term impact of a short-term decision places great importance on the answer to this first question: “Who can a family trust to help make decisions on these complex and critical issues?”
Top results in a search for an Elder Law Attorney are often lawyers offering to sue nursing homes for abuse. While “Elder Abuse” can be a specific problem experienced, a care-giving family member typically needs reliable counsel to address inter-related issues of health care, estate planning, wealth management and Power of Attorney, conservatorship or guardianship. Even for urgent issues such as Elder Abuse, loved ones should find assurance in the words of Einstein, and seek experience in their search for an Elder Law Attorney who has developed a holistic view of all issues facing today’s seniors, as well as related local and federal laws. How?
How to Search for An Experienced Elder Law Attorney
- Ask friends and family for referrals.
- Ask the trusted family banker or financial advisor for a referral.
- Among referred attorneys, ask if they have their own personal experience caring for a parent and facing any of your current issues.
- Be cautious about any attorneys who claim to “do it all.” Think about the breadth and depth of Elder Law. Even the most experienced of attorneys should have colleagues whose counsel they will need for specialty areas of the field.
As obvious as it may sound, references are critical to reliability. Responsible, experienced counsel earns a reputation, and a reputation for care and knowledge is what you need in an Elder Law attorney. Consider the breadth of experience and knowledge that an attorney needs to address issues his clients will face in the near or distant future:
- Estate Planning
- Wills and Living Wills
- Long Term Care
- Guardianship, Conservatorship, Power of Attorney
- Medicaid Planning and Asset Protection
- Social Security and Veteran’s Benefits
- Elder Abuse or Exploitation
Graham Whatley, a Louisville Elder Law Attorney with 25 years of experience including experience with his own parents, has profound understanding of the long-term impact from short-term decisions. Graham invites your Contact for Elder Law questions for an initial consult at no cost, and he will readily refer you to any colleagues with deeper experience than his for any specialty areas of legal assistance you and your loved ones may require.