Just the other day, I was in Gallo’s with a friend of mine, Tim. We were having lunch, talking about the ‘old days’ and about what is going on with our businesses.

“Hey David, what makes you an elder lawyer?”

“Nothing… I’m younger than you!” I quipped.

All jokes aside, he honestly had no idea what an elder law lawyer was in New Castle, what we did and, other than helping elderly issues, what qualifies one to practice this area of law.

There was a much deeper need to have his question answered, I soon found out. His mother (she’s a little over 75) was having some problems with her health and needed planning. Tim knew his mom might not have a ton of good years ahead of her, so this was important.

But, right now, there was no crisis. And, when many people think ‘lawyer’ they think ‘only when there is a problem’.

However, as you are about to find out, much like my friend Tim, an elder law attorney can help in a number of ways – and not all of them have to do with courtrooms and litigation.

What is an elder law lawyer?

Let’s start with the basic question ‘what is an elder law lawyer?’.

An elder law attorney oversees most matters for planning, execution, representation and litigation involving elderly clients. Finding an expert lawyer that deals with elder law is essential as they specialize and focus on older adults and their adult children.

For some needs this might include planning an estate, involving the creation of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and more. For other needs, applying and appealing for benefits from the state or federal government might be needed.

Basically, for many if not all of the “lawyer” actions when it comes to the elderly, an elder law lawyer is required.

For those counting at home, and elder law attorney does two things and does them very well:

  1. Plans and protects current and future assets of the elderly client
  2. Ensures that existing and new documents are legal and correct for their current state

This means that an elder law lawyer in New Castle will focus on creating a correct and clear financial plan for protecting their client’s assets. As well, they will ensure that all lego documents are correct and current for Pennsylvania laws.

Simple, right?

How can an elder law attorney near me help?

So, before we get into the specifics, I need to be clear about this…

Not every lawyer is the same!

For me, I’ve tried to focus on specific problems and solutions that people have.

Here is how I help the local residents of Neshannock, Butler, Hermitage, Cranberry and Erie.

  • Estate Planning
  • Avoiding probate
  • Creating powers of attorney
  • Long-term medical care planning & paying for that care
  • Medicaid and Medicare planning
  • Disability planning
  • Trusts, wills & other financial document creation

Other elder law lawyers in and around Western Pennsylvania can help you with estate administration and management, Medicaid and social security appeals, elder abuse and fraud, and even applying for veteran benefits.

Really, what are you looking for is someone who can:

  1. Help create the right plan to meet known and possible needs in the present and future
  2. Avoid as many unnecessary costs and spending as possible
  3. Prepare and validate legal documents that will be required in the future
  4. Plan and execute on that plan for Medicaid and Medicare needs (trusts, specifically)
  5. Consult on ongoing matters for legal remedy, whether this be via litigation or simply via consulting

You want someone who knows the law in your court when you need them. Elder care lawyers do that, plus are there BEFORE to help prepare everyone and everything correctly.

What questions should you ask an elder law attorney in Western Pennsylvania?

In this section, I’ll need to keep things general. 

After all, your situation might be unique in the details for you. 

However, there are some general questions to ask an elder law lawyer when you meet and start working with them.

  • Can you review my will (and other legal documents)?
  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • How much time is devoted towards elder law, specifically in [what your main need is]?
  • Do you have a particular emphasis on any area within elder law and elder care law?
  • What fees are associated with your assistance?
  • How are those fees computed (per hour, per document, per project)?
  • What documents do I need for our first meeting? Subsequent meetings?

Personally, I welcome these questions, and more. We can’t trust working with each other unless you know who I am and I understand who you are and what you need.

If a possible elder law attorney, or any lawyer for that matter, deflects and doesn’t answer your questions, something is up and you might want to find someone else.

How to choose the BEST local elder law attorney near you

I wish getting the best legal advice, the best lawyer, the best of anything was as simple as picking up the phone and POOF, they are there!

But, that just isn’t the case.

You need trust. You need experience. 

You can find that by using the ATRUE acronym I’ve adopted.

Ask. Ask your possible elder law attorney questions. Do they answer you fully? Do they ask more about your concerns? Do you feel like you received answers to the questions that you’ve asked?

Talk. Talk to them like lawyers, but also like people. Do they talk to you the same? Do they ‘handle you’, telling you what you want instead of asking what you want? Or, do they talk to you as an equal, and make you feel like you’re actually being heard and helped?

Repeat. If a lawyer that you meet with cannot repeat back your needs and wishes, they aren’t in the conversation. Being involved in something so important means their attention should be on you, your legal issues and providing real, solid solutions.

Understand. Understanding your concerns and problems is essential when handling elder care legal needs. Someone could listen to hours of you talking, responding back to everything, but if your lawyer isn’t understanding ‘what’ AND ‘why’, there is a disconnect.

Execute. Execution on the plan is essential in completing your needs. If your elder law attorney cannot provide the right documents to match your needs and provide the correct planning to solve your problems, they are not what you need!

If your new elder law attorney is not following ATRUE for you, then they are not for you. Being able to hear, converse with you, understand you and then execute on your plans, it all matters and it is how an effective plan and execution of that plan happens.

Final thoughts on elder law, elder law attorneys and you

Opening up Chrome or Google and trying to look for an elder law lawyer near you can have a lot of pitfalls, obstacles and winding roads. But, things can get clearer with a better understanding of what elder law is, and how to find a great elder law attorney in New Castle.

Finding a great elder law attorney in Western Pennsylvania can be difficult. I’m hoping this article sheds some light on the process, and allows you to have more clarity the next time you type in “elder law lawyer near me”!

If you need help with any of the elder law and elder care legal topics we’ve discussed, give me a call today at (724)60-ELDER to schedule an in-person, in-home or a virtual meeting. Your initial consultation is free, and without any obligation. You can also email me at davidbauer@beaconestateplanning.com for more information.

Or, just click the link below to claim a date!