10 questions to ask before hiring an elder care attorney

I receive many questions about the needs of frail parents and other loved ones. Such folks often live on scant resources and don’t have family members nearby who can help. They may have some cognitive issues as well, but even if they don’t, trying to figure out how to deal with Medicare and Medicaid coverage and eligibility challenges can be overwhelming.

I often refer such questioners to a qualified elder care attorney who practices in their community. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a good referral source. In 2018, Twyla Sketchley, an elder care attorney in Florida and head of that state’s NAELA chapter, shared this list of questions to ask before retaining an attorney.

  1. How much of the lawyer’s practice is elder law?
  2. How long has the lawyer been practicing elder law?
  3. How much of the lawyer’s elder law practice is handling types of cases like yours?
  4. When was the last time the lawyer handled a case like yours?
  5. Will the lawyer you meet with handle your case or will it be assigned to another lawyer?
  6. Is the lawyer certified as an expert either by their state bar association or a national bar association?
  7. Has the lawyer ever been disciplined by their state bar association? If so, when and what for?
  8. What training do the law firm’s paralegals have who will be assigned to your case?
  9. What are the lawyer’s fees? Flat rate? Hourly? Mixed? Contingent?
  10. Does the lawyer have written fee agreements and firm policies regarding telephone, email, meetings, after hours contact, and the like?

If an attorney fails to provide solid answers to these questions, politely end the conversation and keep looking.