How to choose an Attorney: A guide for Seniors

On August 15, 2013

By Daryl J. Gerber, Esquire

Unfortunately, seniors are frequently the prey of the unscrupulous. This truth extends beyond door-to-door salesmen to include financial planners and attorneys who may be more interested in their financial rewards than in your best interest. Generating pages and pages of paperwork does not necessarily accomplish anything.

Whether you have gotten a name from an advertisement, the phonebook or a friend, ask the attorney directly, even before setting up an appointment, what their normal fees would be and what their experience is in all areas of elder law. Ask what elder law organizations to which they belong. These organizations are valuable sources for updating information and providing answers for the most difficult questions.

Beware of any telephone or mail solicitations. A local attorney or financial planner at least has roots in your geographical area and can communicate with and respond to you with regard to future questions or concerns.

Beware of "free" seminars which promise to solve all of your financial planning, investment, tax or legal problems. Invariably the advertisers are paying big bucks to get you there and expect a return on their investment. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

Be concerned if an attorney tells you their estate planning services will cost you two thousand dollars or more, particularly when your assets are less than one million dollars. Beware of financial planners who want you to transfer your entire investment portfolio to their company. Demand written verification of your costs and their profit from such transactions. Good advice while not free is also not outrageously expensive.

Finally, in any one on one meeting with an attorney or financial planner, use your best instincts to determine the sincerity and honesty of the professional with whom you hope to consult the rest of your life. Always be cautious and vigilant. While most professionals are scrupulous, a bad choice on your part can be disastrous.