The Seven Critical Questions To Ask BEFORE Hiring An Elder Care Attorney

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1 Consumer Report: The Seven Critical Questions To Ask BEFORE Hiring An Elder Care Attorney Provided by: Vouga Elder Law, LLC Clarkson Road, Suite 200 Chesterfield, Missouri 63017

2 Why This Decision Is So Important Hiring the right Elder Care Attorney can be one of the most important decisions you make. When you make the right choice, you will save a great deal of time, money, and energy. Your planning will be a breeze, you will find you save much more than you invest and you will feel that a great weight has been lifted from you. Alternatively, if you hire the wrong attorney, your troubles have just begun. We cannot begin to tell you how many horror stories we have heard from well-meaning people, like you, who hired a non-elder care attorney, or used some documents they found online, to cover their long-term care needs. In an attempt to save a few bucks, they lost a great deal of time, missed opportunities, created real headaches, and in the long run cost them many more dollars than they saved. The seven questions in this report outline what to look for in an Elder Care Attorney, who concentrates in Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Planning, and Elder Care Planning. Use these questions as your guide to navigate these troubled waters. Above all, use the questions to show you who will give you the specialized care that you or your family member deserves. Every case is different and every person requires special attention. That is why we wrote this Special Report for you. First, we understand that you care about what happens to you and your spouse or your loved one. Secondly, we know that you are

3 looking to make the right decision. Third, we know that you are busy and do not have all day to figure this stuff out. This Special Report will arm you with the right information to make the best decision when it comes to your needs (or your loved one s needs). If, after reading this Special Report, you find that our firm meets your needs, that s great, and we would be glad to help. However, if you choose to find another law firm (and you base that decision on what you read here), we will have accomplished our mission too. That s because we truly understand your satiation, we do care about you, and (more than anything) we want you to find a firm that meets your specific needs and you feel comfortable with. So, let s get started. Here are the seven questions you must ask an attorney before choose to work with them for your long term care planning and elder care needs. Question #1 Are you qualified to help with Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Planning and Elder Care Planning? Why the need for all five area s? Simple: there are many lawyers who may be qualified to help you with one or two of the categories above. You may find one who can help with Estate Planning, but who does not understand Long Term Care Planning needs. Perhaps, you will find an attorney who says he or she can help with Asset Protection, but has never worked with the Veterans Administration.

4 Even if you think you only need one of the five areas, you will still want to hire an attorney that concentrates in all of them. That s because more than not, an attorney experienced in all categories will be able to find you money, support, or programs in an area that you may not have known was available. So, be sure to ask a prospective attorney if he or she has experience handling all five key areas: Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Planning and Elder Care Planning At Vouga Elder Law, we have experience in all five key areas, and want to help you keep as much of your hard earned money that you saved up all of your life. Question # 2 Is timely service delivered and how is it delivered? How long can I expect to wait? When dealing with the long term needs of your family or a loved one, the last thing you want to do is to be treated like a number. You want unique, personal, one-on-one care. You want someone who cares about you and your family. And, more than anything you want a firm with the expertise to get the job done right. With many big box firms (and even some small ones), it can take months to get an appointment. And then your case file may get lost in the shuffle of their really big cases, you may just get sent off to a young associate, and your care suffers as a result. Most firms will promise timely service, but be sure to ask them exactly what you can expect. Ask how long the service will last. Ask them how long until you can expect to be seen and how long it will take for action on your case.

5 If you miss this question, it could be months before you realize you hired the wrong attorney. Our goal at Vouga Elder Law, is to have your initial conference within two weeks of your first phone call; sooner if emergency circumstances dictate the need. Saturday and evening appointments are also available upon request. We also strive very hard to return phone calls on a timely basis. Question #3 Are you a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)? NAELA defines the scope of the Elder Law and gives the latest news about legal issues affecting the elderly. It is the single source where every Elder Law Attorney must have a membership. NAELA also has a searchable directory (available at which will help you discover whether the attorney you are considering is listed there. If an attorney says they work in Elder Law, but they are not listed with NAELA, that is a red flag. The red flag spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for you and your loved ones if you choose to work with them. Rick Vouga is a Member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorney s as well as a Director and a Member of Missouri s National Academy of Elder Law Attorney s (MONAELA). Question #4 Are you accredited by the VA to handle Veteran s claims? How often do you file applications with the Veteran s Administration and do you mail or hand deliver the applications?

6 Even if you don t think, you or your loved one, will be eligible for any Veterans benefits, you still want to ask this question. There are several cases a year where we are able to find Veteran Administration (VA) benefits for clients who never knew they were eligible to receive them. Be sure to find an attorney who works with the Veterans Administration on a regular basis, is accredited, and (this is important) one who files applications every month. The VA guidelines change on a fairly consistent basis and you want to be sure to retain an attorney who is informed of all of the changes. You also want to make sure the attorney you work with hand delivers their applications to the Veterans Administration. The Veterans Administration requires seeing the original DD-214 or discharge papers and other precious documents such as a marriage license. If applications are hand delivered the VA can be shown the original and they can certify on a copy they have seen the original and then the original can be taken back to our office, thereby guaranteeing the safety of those treasured documents. If applications are mailed to Veterans Administration, the original documents are at a great risk of being lost forever. Make sure that the attorney you work with values your important documents as much as you do and takes every precaution to return them to you safe and sound. Rick is a Veterans Administration accredited attorney (http://www.v.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/attorneyexcellist.asp), and our firm hand walks through all of our applications with the Veterans Administrations Regional Office. Question #5 Are you a member of the National Organization of Veteran Advocates or Veterans Advocates Group of America? How do you keep up on the ever changing laws of

7 Veterans Administration benefits? As long as the attorney you choose to hire is a member of one of these two groups, then you will be working with someone who is bound to hold themselves to the highest standards in law. That means you will get timely services with the utmost ethical standards. It means you will find an attorney who is honest and one who cares deeply about you or your loved one. Make sure that the attorney you choose regularly attends Veterans Benefits workshops and is a member of at least one list serve so that they are on top of the latest developments in Veterans Benefit planning. Rick, Dana, and Lauren Vouga, typically attend two or more Veterans Benefits conferences a year and are on multiple lists serves with colleagues from around the country keeping up on a daily basis with the ever changing laws. Rick is a member of the Veterans Advocates Group of America (VAGA). Question #6 Do you take Medicaid planning cases? How often do you file Medicaid Applications? Similar to the questions on the Veterans Administration, whether or not you think your case will qualify for Medicaid, you still want an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced at handling these cases. Medicaid planning can make a huge difference in the amount of money you or your family will pay for a loved one s care. Nearly all of our clients have Medicaid planning as part of their case. This is particularly important if you or your loved one is applying for Veterans Benefits. Veterans Benefits are available long before Medicaid is reached. Veterans Administration law, rules and regulations are different than Medicaid laws, rules and regulations. While it is important that the firm you are looking at does Medicaid applications regularly it is more

8 important that you work with an Elder Care law firm that is well versed in both sets of laws so that Veterans Benefits planning does not later interfere with Medicaid eligibility, and that regularly educates themselves on the subject. Medicaid Applications are a regular part of our client s cases. Rick, Dana, and Lauren Vouga, diligently work to continue educating themselves on the latest developments and trends in Medicaid planning, by attending seminars, and reading articles, and are a part of list serves that they read to keep up to date. Question #7 Who will I be interacting with at your firm? The last questions could be the most important one you ask. Many law firms will shove you off to work with a clerk for weeks on end and you may only get one meeting (if that) from the actual attorney. The fact is you want to find a firm where the attorney has set aside time to get to know you and your family members and work with you personally, one-on-one. Your first contact with Vouga Elder Law is through Christy Hess, our cheerful and knowledgeable receptionist. Christy will take messages or direct your call to the appropriate person to meet your needs. If this is your initial inquiry to Vouga Elder Law, you will speak with Jacqueline Vouga, who will asks questions and gather information to see how we might be able to help you or your loved one. Your initial consultation is a FREE, no-obligation, two hour meeting with Dana Vouga, a Paralegal and Veterans Administration, Medicaid and Long Term Care Specialist. After a careful analysis by Rick and Dana, Dana will present to you the options available for your unique situation. After explaining your options, answering your questions, and advising you what your flat-fee investment will be, you will be able to make informed

9 decisions on the plan with which you are most comfortable and makes the most sense for your unique situation. The next step will be a Design Meeting where your customized legal documents will be created. Later, as the documents are prepared and when your documents are ready to be signed, you will be working with Abby Wilde, an associate in the firm. Rick or Abby will be at your signing conference or available to answer your questions. If your Elder Care Plan calls for Veterans Administration Application, you will work hand-in-hand with Lauren Vouga, our Veterans Benefits Specialists, to gather all information and documents needed, as well as being kept informed by Lauren as the application progresses through to approval. If we will be filing a Medicaid application for you or your loved one, Dana or Lauren will work with you every stop of the way. Steps involved in the Medicaid application vary from case to case but can involve assistance with finding a Medicaid bed, applying for a Medicaid Compliant Annuity, purchasing a funeral trust, liquidating assets (if necessary), transferring assets to a spouse at home, transferring a home to a child caretaker, or many other possibilities. Rest assured, whoever you are working with at Vouga Elder Law, will be knowledgeable in their area of expertise, responsive to your needs, sensitive to the emotional stress and anxiety you are coping with, and will do everything in their power to help you find peace of mind. Why This Decision Was So Important When considering an attorney who concentrates in Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Veterans and Medicaid Benefits, and Elder Care Planning, be sure that you ask ALL of these seven questions above. How an attorney answers these questions will tell you a lot about how they will handle your needs.

10 Don t be afraid to ask these seven questions. Our firm never has a problem when a prospective client is detailed in asking us questions like these or any other questions. Not only are we confident that we meet all seven of these qualifications, but it also tells us that you are serious about finding the right planning or care for yourself or for a loved one. If you want to fast-track the process and are looking for a firm that is knowledgeable in all areas of the law mentioned above, a firm who holds to the highest ethical standards, and who cares deeply for your needs and concerns, then please give us a call. There is no-obligation and no fine print. To get your specific questions answered, call the number below and Christy our receptionist, will put you in touch with the right person. Vouga Elder Law, LLC 1819 Clarkson Road, Suite 200 Chesterfield, Missouri Helping You Get Your Ducks In A Row!

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