Before You Hire a Santa Barbara Elder Law Attorney…Ask These 10 Questions First!

You could never fit the dreams, goals, and desires of your family into a one-size-fits-all box. Nor can you fully anticipate the unique challenges, changes, and loss you and your loved ones may face ahead.

As impossible as it is to predict your future and generalize your dreams, that’s how equally impossible it would be to protect your family with a one-size-fits-all estate and long-term care plan.

What works for you may not work for the family down the street, and vice versa. Your family dynamics are different, your health situation is unique, your finances are different, your wishes are different, and what brings you “peace of mind” is different.

That’s why when choosing a firm to help you craft an estate or long-term care plan, it’s important to select one as unique as your family that will help you design a personalized plan to take care of your every want and need.

Most online will and trust services (…and even lawyers!) will simply plug your name into a standardized will or trust document and hit “print.” These documents rarely take into account any of the circumstances mentioned above. It’s a simple “search and replace” job.

But, what happens in the future if you can no longer care for yourself, or you decide to do something different with your life (like become a snowbird and live in multiple states), or you get sick or need to start moving assets around to fund your care? Will those documents protect you? Likely not, as the “one-size-fits-all” language will cause your documents to be out of date and irrelevant to your situation.

When you work with our Santa Barbara estate and elder law firm, you are not just paying for a set of documents, but a relationship with an attorney who will guide you through all of life’s transitions:

We ensure that the investment in your planning is a solid one, and the documents created on your behalf will support you now as well as in the future.

  • The focus of our practice is exclusively on estate and elder law planning, so you can feel good knowing you are receiving a cutting-edge plan which protects your assets and the people you love….no matter what happens!
  • If the laws change, we’re going to contact you and get your plan updated. If your life circumstances change, we’ll be on the front lines helping you utilize the provisions in your documents which will allow you to stay in control and make decisions from a place of empowerment, not pressure.
  • What we offer is education and legal counseling, so you can feel good knowing you have the right legal tools to protect yourself and the people you love.

If you are still comparing long-term care planning services, we invite print out the following “10 Questions to Ask an Elder Law Attorney” below to take with you to your appointments when choosing a law firm that is fully equipped to meet the needs of your family. The 10 questions to ask are as follows:

  1. How do you bill clients? Do you work on a flat-fee basis or will I receive a bill for every phone call, email, or fax sent to your office?
  2. How often will you communicate with me?
  3. Will you periodically review my plan to ensure it’s up-to-date as my life and the law changes through the years? Is this included in my planning fee?
  4. What if I change my mind or want to make changes to my plan? How does that work?
  5. Will you help me fund my trust and ensure my assets are titled the right way? How will you do that?
  6. What happens if my (or my loved one’s) medical situation suddenly changes? Will we need a brand new plan, or do you have “trigger” provisions built in that allow us to achieve new goals with the documents we already have?
  7. Will you prepare custom documents for me based on my unique circumstances, family dynamics, and wishes, or will I be receiving a templated set of documents?
  8. What is your process for helping me protect as much as possible of my life’s savings and assets from long-term care and nursing home costs?
  9. What if I have a pension, retirement account, or money in the bank? I’ve been told I have “too much” to receive Medicaid benefits. How can you still help me qualify without having to spend it all first?
  10. How can you help me protect my independence? What if I or a loved one wants to stay at home as long as possible? What can you do to make that happen?

We are ready to answer these questions and educate you on the ways that Anacapa Law can help your family create an estate and elder care plan that meets your needs both now and in the future. If you’d like to schedule a consultation at our Santa Barbara office, simply call (805) 946-1550.

Author Bio

Julianna Malis is the Founder and Managing Partner of Santa Barbara Estate Planning & Elder Law, a Santa Barbara estate planning law firm she founded in 2014. With more than 25 years of experience practicing law, she has dedicated her career to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including estate planning, elder law, Medicaid and Medicare planning, probate, and other estate planning areas.

Julianna received her Juris Doctor from the University of the Pacific — McGeorge School of Law and is a member of the California State Bar Association.

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