Hiring a Board Certified Elder Law Attorney: 5 Helpful Tips


It is incredibly important to have the essential legal documents in place that give you the necessary legal rights to provide the best care for your older adult, now and at the end of life. Elder law not only involves seniors but also encompasses the broad area of planning for persons with disabilities. Generally, Elder Law is approached from a holistic perspective where the attorney will counsel his or her clients on issues related to maintaining control of assets during a lifetime in the event of, disability, and after death. Areas of concern will also include asset protection to meet long-term care needs including, home care, assisted living, and possible nursing home care. Veterans’ benefits may also play an important role in accomplishing these goals. It is imperative to find an expert lawyer that you trust to provide you with the best advice. The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, LLC will discuss 5 helpful tips when looking for an Elder Law attorney, but first, let’s discuss when you should contact an Elder Law Attorney and what it means to be board certified.

When Should I Contact an Elder Law Attorney?


You should contact an elder law attorney anytime you have questions or concerns about the aging process and its legal implications. You should absolutely contact an elder law attorney if you are over age 70 and you have never done any estate planning or if you have not updated your estate plan in the last three (3) to five (5) years.

Many individuals wait until it’s too late to do the planning—when they are no longer competent—and are unable to participate in the planning process. An elder law estate planning process is essential to ensure you have the proper legal directives for disability planning. These include both financial and healthcare powers of attorney, living wills, and preneed guardian declarations. You’ll also want to plan for what happens when you die—either with a will or a trust—and you’ll want to make sure your memorial/funeral instructions have been made known to your family.

If you have family members who are disabled or have special needs, an estate plan will be especially important for the protection of government benefits they may be receiving.

If you are single and considering remarriage, a consultation with an Elder Law attorney may be in order to discuss the effect on your Social Security benefits, retirement plans, and taxes. A pre or post-marital agreement may be necessary to protect family assets for children from a previous marriage.

Family members should contact an Elder Law attorney if they have concerns about a parent’s competency, want to discuss long-term care planning options, including the protection of assets from the rising cost of nursing home care, or if they believe a family member or friend is taking advantage of a senior individual.

What Is Board Certification?

A board-certified attorney is an expert who specializes in a particular field of law, such as Elder Law. The Florida Bar sets the standard for certification.

To practice law in Florida one must attend an accredited law school and pass the bar exam; but to earn board certification from the Florida Bar, an attorney must meet a rigorous set of standards and criteria in their area of specialization. Only 7% of eligible Florida Bar members have earned board certification in one or more of the 27 specialty areas of law. In fact, it is the highest level of distinction an attorney can achieve in the field. Currently The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, LLC is the only law firm in Florida with two attorneys dual board certified in Wills, Trusts and Estates, and in Elder Law. Altogether, they employ three (3) board-certified Elder Law attorneys. 

Below are 5 helpful tips when hiring an Elder Law attorney:

1. Get a referral from someone you know

A great first step in hiring an Elder Law attorney is by getting a referral from family or a friend. If they have a lawyer they’re happy with and would work with again, that’s a good sign. It’s best to get a referral from someone whose legal needs are similar to yours. Good lawyers typically know other good lawyers and will probably be able to refer you to a colleague they respect. Similarly, financial advisors, accountants, and fiduciaries (someone legally appointed to manage money) are professionals who often work with elder law attorneys. If you know and trust one of these professionals, ask them for a referral.

2. Attend a workshop or schedule an initial consultation

Attending an education workshop or scheduling a consultation helps you get a feel for how the attorneys work and if their style works for you. You can meet with a few lawyers and present the same situation to each. Then, you can compare their responses. That helps you confirm that the overall approach is legitimate and prompts you to ask questions about any differences in advice.

3. Find out how much experience they’ve had with issues similar to yours

Experience comes with years in practice and with how many of those types of situations they’ve dealt with. So, it’s a good idea to look for a lawyer with experience handling matters similar to yours. For example, if you need a Power of Attorney, long-term care planning, or estate planning, ask prospective attorneys to describe their experience with those matters.

Peggy Hoyt and Randy Bryan, the founding partners of The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, LLC bring significant estate planning, elder law, estate administration, real estate, and business planning experience to their practice. Both are Florida Bar Board Certified specialists in Wills, Trusts, and Estates as well as in Elder Law. Together they have combined legal experience of more than 60 years! They are members of WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys,  The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and all national organizations of estate planning and elder law professionals committed to one goal – the best interests of our clients. Partner, Sarah AuMiller, a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Elder Law and Associate Attorney, Michelle Adams Gumula, assists in providing quality legal education and counseling to our clients and their trusted advisors. Our dedicated team provides the additional support necessary to provide superior legal services.

4. Evaluate their customer service

Working with someone who is professional and responsive is important. After speaking with a lawyer, ask yourself:

  •   Are they polite and professional?
  •    Do they return calls or emails in a timely manner?
  •  Do they take time to explain things and confirm you have a good understanding?
  • Do they follow through with things they’ve said they’ll do?

5. Take plenty of notes

To help you remember what each lawyer said and how you felt about them, be sure to take notes during and after each meeting. Later, review your notes to help you make the final decision.

To schedule an Elder Law appointment with The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan, contact our office by emailing [email protected], completing this form, or by giving us a call at 407-977-8080. We look forward to hearing from you soon!


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