With so many different types of attorneys out there, with different specialties, you may be wondering whether an elder law attorney is the type of attorney you need for your specific legal issues. An elder law attorney primarily handles issues relating to seniors. This can include nursing home issues, estate planning, and guardianships, just to name a few. So, when would you need an elder law attorney?
The training and experience of an elder law attorney
Elder law attorneys receive special training and experience in the relevant legal issues that affect seniors, which makes them better equipped to understand and meet the needs of their elder clients and their families. Elder law attorneys are also adept at anticipating potential problems facing seniors. Generally speaking, the practice of elder law requires legal advocacy, education, counseling and future planning.
Understanding legal issues facing seniors in our society
One particular skill that an elder law attorney should have is maintaining a current and working knowledge of the common issues facing seniors in our society. It is important for attorneys to be able to sort through the myths related to aging and competence, where seniors are concerned. Elder law attorneys must be experienced enough to identify the real mental and physical challenges of seniors while recognizing how important freedom and autonomy are to the elder population. Keeping abreast of the changes in the laws affecting seniors and making connections with the professionals who routinely provide services to the elderly is an important part of the job. An elder law attorney’s advocacy often goes beyond simply drafting legal documents.
Common legal issues handled by an elder law attorney
Here are some of the most common legal issues handled by elder law attorneys in Kansas and Missouri:
- Medicaid coverage for long-term care
- Estate planning and administration
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Establishing and administering various types trusts
Questions you may want to ask your elder law attorney
First, you should make sure your attorney handles the specific issues you are dealing with. Although there are common legal issues that most elder law attorneys are familiar with, not every elder law attorney handle each of those areas. You should hire an attorney who regularly handles matters in the area of law with which you or your loved one needs guidance. You may want to ask how long the attorney has been practicing in the field of elder law and, possibly, how much of his or her practice is devoted to that specifically to elder law.
What to do before the first consultation
The first thing most potential clients want to know is whether there will be a fee for the initial consultation. You may also want to ask what specific information or documentation you will need to bring with you to the initial consultation, which will depend greatly on the type of services you believe you need. This can save you and your attorney time and prevent the need to reschedule another appointment simply to gather and provide the necessary information.
What do elder law attorneys typically charge?
Elder law attorneys, like most other attorneys, typically offer a free initial consultation with potential clients. That means there will be no charge for discussing your concerns and determining what type of legal assistance you need. The fees elder law attorneys charge for subsequent legal work will depend on the type of services required and the nature of the work required.
Probate fees in Kansas
One factor that may affect the cost of legal representation is probate fees. In some states, probate fees depend on the value of the decedent’s estate. In other states, such as Kansas, probate fees are based upon the actual expenses associated with settling the estate. That would include executors’ fees and attorneys’ fees. Both executors and attorneys are required by law to keep their fees reasonable and, in fact, their fees may be subject to review by the Kansas probate court.
Factors that affect the cost of probating an estate in Kansas
There are certain factors that, if they apply to your situation, can increase the cost of probating an estate in Kansas. For example, if you die without a will, probate costs are typically higher than if you left a will. A will contest can also significantly increase the cost of probate because it requires litigation. If some of the property included in your estate is located in other states, there will probably be additional probate costs associated with ancillary probate proceedings in each of those states.
If you have questions regarding elder law, or any other estate planning matters, contact Gaughan & Connealy for a consultation either online or by calling us at (913) 262-2000.