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Choosing an elder law attorney to help you navigate through the maze of estate planning, long-term care decisions and more can be confusing.

Almost all general practice attorneys advertise estate planning and elder law services. Even more bewildering is that many people can get a simple will off of the Internet for about $50.00.

So why might you need the services of an elder law attorney? What qualities should you look for when you’re deciding which one to hire?

Specialized experience

Unlike general practice attorneys, elder law attorneys are deeply familiar with the relationship between estate planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid, Veterans’ Benefits, and retirement planning.

Another lawyer (or a legal website) may be able to provide you with an appropriately drafted will or trust. However, that person may not understand, for example, that the plan they drafted for you will not protect your assets from a Medicaid spend-down, or that your assets have not been appropriately positioned for you to qualify for VA benefits down the road.

Only an elder law attorney has the knowledge needed to provide you with a specialized plan that works for your unique situation and accomplishes your specific goals.

Estate planning attorneys know that no two clients are alike and that there is no simple formula that fits every client’s needs.

Flat fees, not hourly billing

A good elder law attorney will not bill you on an hourly basis for estate planning services. Once your attorney knows how much planning is required, he or she should be able to quote you one price that includes drafting your documents and funding your trust (if you decided to execute one).

Included in this flat fee should be all necessary meetings with the attorney and paralegal handling your plan, as well as phone calls and e-mails about the estate planning process.

Because estate planning is such an important service – one that can save you millions of dollars – estate planning attorneys should never allow their clients to be afraid to call their lawyer to ask an important question or make a crucial change to their estate plan.

Questions for your elder law attorney

When you meet with an elder law attorney, be sure to ask them a few key questions.

How long have they been practicing law? How many Medicaid applications does their office handle on a regular basis? What portion of their practice is dedicated to elder law and related matters?

You want to make sure that the attorney you hire is going to have the experience and focus you need to make sure your best interests are protected.

Knowledge about elder care resources

The ideal elder law attorney will be well-connected with other care professionals in your area. He or she should be able to direct you to elder care coordinators, social workers, and nursing home directors who can work with your attorney to help you make the best decisions for your long-term care needs.

Also, your elder law attorney should be familiar with the local Medicaid process and should be able to communicate regularly with Medicaid caseworkers in your area about the status of applications.

How to find an elder law attorney

While finding the ideal estate planning attorney can be difficult, it is certainly not impossible. Here at Alperin Law, our attorneys meet all of these criteria.

If you live outside of Virginia and North Carolina, we are happy to refer you to an attorney in another state who can help you with your goals and objectives.

Another way to find an attorney who specializes in estate planning and elder law is to visit the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys at www.naela.org. This site allows you to search for qualified elder law and estate planning attorneys throughout the country.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us or

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Alperin Law

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500 Viking Drive, Suite 202,
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300,
Newport News, VA 23606

PHONE: (757) 490-3500
FAX: (757) 233-3600

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