Aging persons and their family members face many unique legal issues. The legal, financial and care planning issues facing a prospective nursing home resident and their family can be overwhelming. If you or a loved one needs nursing home care, you should seek expert help. However, it is often difficult for consumers to be able to identify lawyers who have the training and experience to provide expert guidance during this challenging time.
Generally, Medicaid planning is an aspect of the services provided by Elder Law attorneys. Consumers must be cautious in choosing any lawyer and carefully investigate the lawyer’s credentials.
How do you find an Elder Law attorney that has the knowledge and experience you need? You may want to start with recommendations from friends who have received legal help with nursing home issues. Who did they use? Were they satisfied with the services they received? Hospital social workers, Alzheimer and other support groups, attorneys, accountants, and other professionals can also be good sources of recommendations.
In general, a lawyer who devotes a substantial part of his or her practice to Medicaid planning should have the knowledge and experience to address the issues properly. Don’t hesitate to ask the lawyer what percentage of his practice involves Medicaid planning. You may want to ask how many new Medicaid planning cases the attorney handles each month. There is no correct answer. But there is a good chance that an attorney that assists with at least 3-4 nursing home placements each month is likely to be more up-to-date and knowledgeable than an attorney that helps with two placements a year. Ask whether the lawyer is a member of any Elder Law organizations. Is the lawyer involved with committees or local or state bar organizations that have to do with Medicaid planning? Does the lawyer lecture on Medicaid planning? If so, to whom? (For example, if the lawyer is asked to teach other lawyers or professionals about Elder Law and nursing home planning, that is a very good sign that the lawyer is considered to be knowledgeable by people who should know.) If the lawyer lectures to the public, you might try to attend one of the seminars. This should help you decide if this is the right lawyer for you.
In the end, follow your instincts and choose an attorney who knows this area of the law, who is committed to helping others, and who listens to you and the unique wants and needs of you and your family.