Not All Professionals Are Created Equal

Not All Professionals Are Created Equal by Peter Gordon{2:45 minutes to read} I recently met with a referral to discuss their financial organization. My routine is to always ask if someone has a will, a health proxy, and a power of attorney. She replied that she did, but that she had never paid the attorney for it.

During the conversation, it was determined that she had a potential need for Community Medicaid, so I explained the Medicaid application process and how a Pooled Income Trust worked. I also mentioned that it might be beneficial to speak to an Elder Care Attorney. She didn’t understand why she would need a different attorney. Since she already had a will, a power of attorney, and a health proxy, and had yet to pay for it, why not stay with that lawyer?

I explained that it’s important to work with a specialist. If you have a knee problem, you don’t go to a pulmonologist, you see an orthopedist; it’s not that much different in the world of law. I asked to see her will and power of attorney, as well as the attorney’s name, as I wanted to get a sense of what their expertise was. When I looked online, there was no website for the firm, which was a red flag.

In today’s day and age, most established attorneys have an internet presence.

I did eventually find information about the company through an attorney directory. It showed that 50% of their business was corporate litigation and 50% was personal injury. This is not the proper law firm to handle elder care. On top of that, when looking at the legal documents, I saw that the attorney had made himself the executor of the estate and power of attorney – this is highly unusual and not a good business practice. To make matters worse, my referral mentioned that the attorney didn’t charge her for his hours, simply saying: “Oh, don’t worry. When you pass away, I’ll get the money from the estate.”

This cautionary tale is yet another example of why you need to do research and talk to other people, including experts, when making vital life decisions.

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