First let’s look at what is an elder law attorney anyway?
Every Elder Law attorney I know has a different definition. In Tacoma, WA and Kirkland, WA elder law attorneys and their practice areas are tremendously diverse. Some only help families with guardianships. I am a probate attorney in the Puget Sound area in Washington State with a primary focus on one thing: helping families plan for and pay for long term care.
To pay for long term care, we often look at funding sources such as Medicare, Medicaid, COPES, Veterans Benefits and other sources such as private long term care insurance. The difficulty is that these programs have different and complicated rules.
As such, a good elder law attorney must have expertise that most younger attorneys simply lack. Put differently: look for an attorney who has been in practice long enough to develop the skills necessary to tackle this problem.
One way to narrow your search: look for attorneys who are members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, commonly called NAELA. To be a member, an attorney must be in practice for a minimum of five years with an emphasis on elder law.
Another great organization: Elder Counsel. This organization focuses on helping attorneys practice Medicaid and Veterans’ Benefits planning.
I am a member of both and serve elderly and disabled clients