Elder Law

This is a broad term that encompasses a broad array of services that we provide to our elderly clientele. This may be as simple as making sure dad has an adequate power of attorney to positioning real estate in a manner to protect it from a catastrophic health event.

Elder law is tax law, it is real estate law, it is estate planning and cuts a broad swath across all aspects of the law. It is crisis intervention, family counseling, mediation and counseling. It is in this area that we feel most useful as attorneys and counselors.

The effects of our work with disabled and elderly clients is immediate and satisfying. Our staff works every day with the Department of Public Welfare and with their local assistance offices and their legal counsel. Since we do this work daily, we are up to date on the latest rulings and trends in these areas. It is the only way that one can safely navigate what is known in our court systems as a “legal morass.”

Elder Law Frequently Asked Questions

What is Elder Law and what is an Elder Law Attorney? Elder law is the practice of law focusing on the needs of the elderly and disabled.  While that may sound simple it is not.  We see elder law are more of a legal context which seeks to apply legal principles consistent with the changing social and medical issues presented to the elderly and disabled.  The “context” of elder law is the fact that our clients will likely suffer from illnesses and infirmities that require substantial care.  This may take place in the home or in one of the rapidly expanding assisted living facilities or perhaps in a full nursing home.  Independent individuals become unable to care for themselves.  They need assistance from their families and from their communities.  After a lifetime of independence, they are required to be on the receiving end.  Their hard-earned independence and their assets are now at risk.  Their confidence is also at risk as they face the inevitable decline brought about by aging and illness.  Each circumstance is unique but the problems are varied and require an expertise on many areas of law – agency, contracts, tax, trusts, estate planning, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, Veterans Benefits, Guardianship and Capacity, and areas that cross all of these lines at once. An elder law attorney needs to be well versed in many areas of the law and able to correlate the client’s circumstances and the law into a reasonable plan often during a time of family crisis.  There is a great deal of legal work combined with equal amounts of social work, psychology, family therapy and support mixed together.

What are an Elder Law Attorney’s fees? An elder law attorney may charge by the hour, by the case or by the outcome.  It is essential (and required) that these fees be communicated to clients in writing before beginning a case matter.   Make sure you understand and agree to the fees and what they will purchase in terms of time and outcome before you hire the attorney.

How do I find an Elder Law Attorney? The best place to start is the National Academy of Elder Law attorneys (“NAELA”) which has resources and search engines available at their website.  http://www.naela.org.   A Google search or Avvo.com may also be helpful.  There are more and more ratings services for attorneys, doctors and other professionals.  Be careful about relying solely on these sites.  The best ratings come from actual clients and or colleagues.  Many times a nursing home, financial professional or attorney may make a referral based on previous interaction with the elder law attorney.  This is the best indicator of a qualified practitioner.

What questions should I ask an elder law attorney? Before hiring an elder care attorney in Bucks County, find out how long they have practiced in this area and how much real case experience they have.  It is common for general practitioners to call themselves elder law attorneys because they have some experience with some of the areas common to elder law.  We believe that there is no substitute for actual time in the field.  To us it is simple.  Does the attorney call you back?   Does he answer your questions?  Does he treat you with respect?  Does he do what he or she says he will do?  Does he finish what he starts?   You could ask these questions about your painter or carpenter.  It is the same in law.   Someone who cares will stand out and you will know about them before you reach their office from friends and colleagues.  You may have received a referral from your financial advisor.  You may see them on the web or read their articles in the local news or blogs.  You will know the good ones when you see them.  If it takes more than 24 hours to get a call back, go elsewhere.   The first call should tell you all you need to know.

Is there a national organization of elder law attorneys? As stated above, the National Academy of Elder Law attorneys. http://www.naela.org.

What is a CELA? A specialty certification known as a CELA (“Certified Elder Law Attorney”).  This certification mean that you have found a knowledgeable attorney who has taken an exam in the areas important in elder law, has had many elder law cases and is known to his peers..  It is a good measure but a CELA alone does not guarantee that attorney is competent and you should make sure to still do your homework and seek references.  Many attorneys with other  advanced degrees in law do not seek this certification but are excellent elder law lawyers and may have qualifications that exceed those of a CELA.   See the questions about how to find a competent attorney first.

Should an elder law attorney have other areas of law that he or she practices? Most elder law attorneys have a full practice consisting of estate planning, probate, Medicare and Medicaid planning, special needs trusts and planning, guardianships and veterans benefits.   The focus, however, should be on how these areas of the law fit together to address the needs of the client.

Contact Us Today!

The Elder Law Attorneys at Shober and Rock represent clients with a wide range of needs. Call (215) 345-4301 today to consult with our experienced Elder Law Attorneys.