How do you feel when you hear the words “You need to talk to an elder law attorney.”? We surveyed some people on that question and it made them feel, in one word, old. BUT WAIT! You don’t have to be old to care about elder law, because planning helps YOU be where you want to be financially, physically, and emotionally in the years ahead. Who doesn’t want to be happy in those three areas? (If you don’t want to be, don’t answer that; it’s a rhetorical question!)
A typical scenario we see every day at Nurse Next Door looks something like this:
We receive a phone call from Laurie Christmas. Her dad passed away two years ago, and her mom has been living at home alone. Mom had a fall two weeks ago, and Laurie isn’t sure she’s taking all her medications properly. Nurse Next Door visits Mrs. Christmas, performs a caring consult, and creates a customized care plan; however, finances are tight. Laurie has no idea what mom’s finances look like and mom doesn’t want to pay. Enter an elder law attorney. Would it have been nice to have one two years ago? Absolutely. Is it too late? Definitely not.
Elder law is a specialized area of legal planning meant to guide any adult through lifetime planning, end of life planning, and asset protection planning. At the root of elder law is estate planning.
For many, the concept of estate planning may seem limited to signing a series of lengthy, legal documents to meet the goals of providing for loved ones, reducing tax liability, and avoiding probate. A true estate plan encompasses much more than executing the right documents, and encourages reflection on both the brevity of life and the client’s unique family dynamics.
Planning for the future can evoke overwhelming feelings of anxiety, insecurity, and the desire to avoid the topic all together. Working with the right team of professionals, engaging in productive communication, and taking the process one step at a time can help ensure a positive and goal-oriented outcome while making these necessary arrangements. Additionally, the sooner a family takes these steps, the more legal planning opportunities they may have to succeed in meeting their goals.
Consider the questions below. The Elder Law firm that can answer these questions without hesitation may prove to be a great fit for your needs.
1. Does your firm focus only on this area of the law?
2. Are you a solo practice or do you have a team of professionals working on my case? What steps/process will I follow? Who will be my point of contact?
3. Do you offer educational events in my local community?
4. What steps do you take to remain up-to-date on current state and federal law, and Medicaid rules?
5. What kinds of planning strategies do you use to shelter assets?
6. What protections are offered to the healthy spouse?
7. What is the likely outcome of my case based on the facts I have shared with you?
8. Are fees computed on a flat or hourly rate and how often does the attorney bill? Does the pricing I have been quoted include the funding of my Trust?
9. What is your success rate of avoiding probate when a client passes?
10. Do you offer an Estate Planning Maintenance Program?
Let’s consider this: Isn’t it great to have shredded cheese BEFORE you want nachos? Otherwise, you must buy it when you’re deep in the throes of a nacho craving, so you end up buying it at the closest store and at the highest price because you’re in a hurry. If that’s not bad enough, now you have to wait longer to enjoy your nachos.
And so it goes with talking to an elder law attorney. The best time to have a conversation with an elder law attorney is BEFORE you need them. The next best time? Now. If you think it might be too late, don’t! Meeting with an elder law attorney is valuable at any time because it may end up saving you time and money.
We’d like to extend a big shout out to our friends at Procino-Wells & Woodland for being our guest contributors and local experts on this topic.
Michele Procino-Wells, Esquire
Mrs. Procino-Wells has been practicing law in Delaware since 1995. She holds a B.A. from Penn State University, a law degree (J.D.) from Widener University School of Law, and a graduate master of laws degree in taxation (LL.M) from Villanova University School of Law.
Amber B. Woodland, Esquire
Mrs. Woodland has been practicing law in Delaware since 2010. She was admitted to the Delaware Bar on the exact same day as Michele, fifteen years later. She holds a B.A. from Flagler College and a J.D. from Regent University School of Law.
Leslie Case DiPietro, Esquire
Mrs. DiPietro has been practicing law in Delaware since 2006. She holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland, a J.D. from Stetson University College of Law and a Certificate in Estate Planning from Beasley School of Law at Temple University.
Procino-Wells & Woodland, LLC is a local Elder Law firm with offices in Seaford and Lewes, DE, and practicing in both Delaware and Maryland. Michele Procino-Wells, Amber B. Woodland, and Leslie Case DiPietro specialize in only this area of the law and take great measures to travel the country every year to remain well versed in the newest planning opportunities and changes to state and federal laws. Their staff of eleven take a team approach to each client’s case under direct advisement of the firm’s attorneys. Clients can expect flat-fee billing that is proposed upfront during an initial consultation and accompanies a specific scope of work for the services that will accomplish that client’s goals. You may learn more about Procino-Wells & Woodland by visiting www.pwwlaw.com. Be sure to click on the News & Events tab to learn about the firm’s free community educational events.
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