Questions to Ensure You Are Working with a Qualified Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorney
Question #1. Is there a designation that distinguishes an attorney as having expertise in Estate Planning and Elder Law?
Answer: Only CELAs can hold themselves out as Elder Law experts. There are just 25 CELAs in MA because it is so difficult to achieve and maintain. Among many rigorous requirements, a CELA must pass a full-day national bar-style exam and enjoy the recommendation of other experts in this area of law.
Attorneys Patrick Curley and Lucy Budman are longstanding, proud Certified Elder Law Attorneys.*
Question #2. Should your attorney be a MassNAELA member?
Answer: Yes. Roughly 450 attorneys are members of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (MassNAELA), whose mission is to “educate, inspire, serve, advocate, and provide community to attorneys with practices in elder and special needs law.” MassNAELA hosts regular educational events. Ask if your attorney is a member and how many MassNAELA educational events they participated in during the last year?
Attorneys Curley and Budman participate in virtually every MassNAELA educational event. They have presented at such events. Patrick has served on the Board of Directors since 2009.
Question #3. Is your attorney held in high regard by their clients and attorney peers?
Answer: Check your attorney’s client and peer attorney reviews on Avvo.com, Google, and Findlaw.com. Ask your attorney if they are a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) and included in Massachusetts Super Lawyers®, both of which require peer reviews and endorsements.
Consult the listed websites as well as our own website for testimonials. Attorneys Curley and Budman are CELAs and have been selected for inclusion in Massachusetts Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars®. Attorney Curley has served as a contributing author of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s annual “Elder Law Education Program” state-wide publication for several consecutive years.
Question #4. Will your attorney be available to help in a crisis?
Answer: Ask your attorney what happens if they are on vacation, get sick, die, or retire and you need emergency help on your legal matters? Who will be available to guide you?
Question #5. Will your attorney be up-to-date on the latest legal developments?
Answer: Incredibly, Massachusetts does not require attorneys to complete any continuing legal education (CLE) after they pass the Bar exam. Without ongoing education, your attorney’s knowledge could be woefully outdated given how fast this area of law keeps changing. Ask your attorney how many CLE hours they completed last year in the areas of Elder Law and Estate Planning.
To maintain our status as Certified Elder Law Attorneys, we are mandated to participate in dozens of hours of continuing legal education.
Question #6. Does my attorney really need to focus on this area of law?
Answer: Yes. Beware, many attorneys are “jack-of-all-trades” attorneys claiming expertise in a broad range of practice areas like Personal Injury, Probate, Contracts, Divorce and Estate Planning. Ask your attorney if they practice only in the areas of Estate Planning and Elder Law.
Our attorneys proudly devote their law practices exclusively to Estate Planning and Elder Law. We are passionate about these areas of law.
Question #7. What precautions should an attorney take to protect my personal information?
Answer: Computer systems can be “hacked” and personal data stolen. You hear about this in the news. Confirm that your attorney (1) maintains an up-to-date Written Information Security Plan (WISP), (2) uses secure, password-protected servers, computers, and digital devices – all maintained by professional Information Technology (IT) vendors, (3) never disposes of all documents or digital media containing a client’s personal information without first shredding it; (4) maintains a Cyber Security Insurance Policy; and (5) ensures all employees pass strict background checks performed by licensed vendors.
We do all of these things and more to protect our clients’ personal information.
Question #8. Is your attorney respectful and friendly?
Answer: This area of law is simply too important to rely on an attorney who is not respectful and friendly.
We pride ourselves on the service and respect we offer our clients. Visit our website to view our video client testimonials.
Question #9. Should I expect a “free” Consultation?
Answer: No. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Some lawyers offer “free” consultations, but then offer no valuable information because they have not been paid anything. They spend the whole time talking about themselves, current events, or the weather. And you leave with no knowledge or advice on how to proceed.
We charge a Consultation fee. It allows us to focus our time and efforts on clients who value our expertise and are committed to investing in their peace of mind. We prepare extensively for the Consultation and offer a productive meeting so that you can make an informed decision on how best to proceed.
We can answer all of these questions confidently.
Be sure your attorney can too.