Some people believe that engaging the services of an attorney is an event-based decision. But consider that we don’t – or shouldn’t – wait to see a dentist until our teeth hurt, or a doctor until we experience aches and pains. In the same way, developing a relationship with an experienced elder law attorney, well before a loved one (or oneself) reaches the stage where long-term care planning is a consideration, will make the process considerably easier.
In the unfortunate event that something does go wrong for someone who has chosen nursing home care, such as abuse or neglect, a legal team that is already familiar with their personal background and individual needs will make all the difference in building a winning case. This is all the more reason to put finding an elder law attorney on your to-do list.
Here, we offer three considerations in getting started.
Knowing What You’re Looking For
The most critical deciding factor in knowing who to choose is the attorney and their team’s level of experience with the type of legal advice you or a loved one will need. It is best to choose someone whose work is dedicated to elder law. The intricacies of this practice area cannot be understated, regardless of the ability of a general practice lawyer.
If you do choose the latter, it is critical to consider how much of the attorney’s work is taken up by elder law, and when the last time was that they fought such a case in court. Even for dedicated elder law practices, get specific. What is that attorney’s understanding of or experience in dealing with case types like yours?
A Financial Roadmap for Long-Term Care
There are numerous reasons for preemptively building an attorney-client relationship, but one area in particular stands out. Unlike estate lawyers, an elder law attorney will not map out how assets will be divided among inheritors after death. But they can help families financially plan their long-term care options now, developing a personalized and cost-effective solution.
One insurer put the median cost of assisted living in the United States at $4,300 a month, on average, in 2020, with adult day health care costing more than $1,600. In-home care costs typically ran over $4,000 a month, and full-time residence at a nursing home facility can cost nearly twice as much. Regardless of the option you choose, total out-of-pocket spending can run as high as 40% of paid care, according to the National Academy of Social Insurance. As such, an experienced legal advisor walking you through the monetary aspects of care planning is absolutely essential.
Finding an Attorney Specializing in Elder Abuse
Though hard to imagine, it is possible you will need to turn to this attorney once a relationship has been built to pursue damages against a nursing home or long-term care facility, if abuse or neglect is suspected. It also pays to consider the attorney’s experience with elder abuse, including their history with physical, financial and sexual abuse cases in particular, as you are performing your initial search.
Despite robust legislation on the rights of nursing home residents at the federal level, Tennessee has some of the lowest ranking elder abuse protections in the country. Elders with mental infirmities and physical disabilities are especially vulnerable. Because it is difficult for many groups, those with mental illnesses for example, to gain admission to quality nursing facilities, an elder abuse attorney can provide valuable insight into your care plan on the front end.
Rates of abuse are sadly commonplace. Some sources suggest as many as 1 in 10 Americans over 60 have experienced some type of elder abuse, and widespread concern exists about underreporting. Your attorney must be experienced in the unique legal climate of your state, able to predict and counteract a nursing home’s defense strategy, and work to develop a viable legal plan to confront abuses and recover damages.
Whatever your situation, there is no better time than now to start planning or to obtain answers to your questions from an experienced elder law attorney. Reach out to Jehl Law Group today.