Choose a Lawyer You Trust (And, We Don’t Mean Us)
We talk a lot about trusts in this blog, the great asset-protecting options that a trust presents, its useful flexibility, and the peace of mind it gives you. But, in this entry, I’m talking about trust itself. It’s the very foundation of any strong relationship, whether between family and friends, or with the folks we invite into our lives specifically to help us navigate life’s intricacies and eventualities.
Having an attorney you can trust is, of course, of paramount importance. And for once, we’re not talking about ourselves!
Let Me Share a Real-Life Example
A client of mine was recently working on the sale of her out-of-state home. She’d worked with us to include the home as part of a comprehensive trust plan we’d executed. We were able to give her a sound plan because we got to know the details of her situation and the rationale for her choices, and then used that knowledge to figure out the best ways to reach her goals.
Her out-of-state lawyer did not.
He was an older gentleman, getting ready to retire himself, and simply didn’t care to take the time to understand our client’s needs with the amount of time or attention she deserved. Thankfully, my client had been paying close attention while working with us and managed to spot a few red flags. Happily, she and her family were not in an emergency situation or imminent need of long-term care, so the other lawyer’s uninformed errors didn’t affect her plan too much. But, had she been older and in different health, this lawyer’s oversights could have been costly and even dangerous.
The takeaway here: Good advice can be hard to find, and bad advice can mess you up. But how can we tell the good from the bad?
Trusted Attorneys Know Trusted Attorneys
Happily, one attribute you can count on to identify a quality elder law attorney is the professional network they maintain.
A powerful network often makes it relatively simple to A) Identify a reputable attorney worthy of your trust from the start, and B) Feel confident that their expertise and connections will help you avoid finding yourself between a rock and a hard place later on.
The elder law attorney you choose to trust now, should be able to help you down the road, even if that help comes from another lawyer.
Double Check Your New Attorney’s Work
It should go without saying, but if you’ve worked with a lawyer to set up a sound long-term plan based on your assets and goals, that plan should also be carefully overseen for progress and pitfalls. That’s why we offer a Client Care Program, so you have ongoing access to us to handle whatever may arise, without worrying about exorbitant costs. So, let’s say that some time goes by and you’re ready to make a move or sell off some assets. If you need a lawyer that is either out of state, or that does real estate transactions or some other legal service that we don’t provide, be wary of who you use. Your plan is no longer in the hands of the person you identified as someone you could count on to do the best to take care of you, especially at those times when you’re not sure how to take care of yourself.
We certainly don’t mind when clients talk to other attorneys, but we do ask that they strongly consider affording us the opportunity to review any changes that an attorney new to your situation is suggesting. Having your trusted lead attorney in elder law matters be a proofreader on any changes made by another attorney to the details of your long-term plan is a simple way to avoid unwanted surprises.
Referrals You Can Trust
Recommendations from friends and family can be a very nice start, but remember, even your closest confidants may not know all of your personal business or be in a position to evaluate what makes a professional competent to help you for your specific needs. So, what was a good fit for them, may not be for you. The best way to find another attorney you can trust is to get a referral from the current attorney you trust.
At our firm, we specialize in elder law and have been helping families right here in the Hudson Valley protect their life savings so that their life savings can protect them. We love our practice area and local focus, but we know plenty of other lawyers that provide other services, and we are also members of multiple national organizations from which we have built a network of lawyers who we maintain close contact with, and whose approaches we trust for referrals.
Trust is one of the most important investments you will make in your estate and long-term planning. When you want to talk to experienced elder law attorneys you can trust, please consider us.