Imagine your 10-year-old child has a lingering pain in her big toe. You would get in to see your regular doctor as soon as possible. If needed, the doctor may recommend that you see a specialist, and may refer you to a pediatric podiatrist who only works with big toes. There seems to be a medical specialty for every ailment!
Similarly, if you have a legal problem, you might go see the attorney who handled the sale of your uncle’s home or maybe the lawyer that your next-door neighbor used when he was injured in a car wreck. If your legal problem is a home sale or a personal injury, the first lawyer you speak to could likely help with your legal matters.
If you spoke with the personal injury attorney about estate planning for your child with special needs, hopefully you would get referred to someone who specializes in Estate Planning and Administration, one of the seven specialty areas recognized by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization (https://www.lsba.org/Specialization/). Currently, attorneys are recognized as specialists in these areas of the law: Appellate Practice, Business Bankruptcy Law, Consumer Bankruptcy Law, Employment Law, Estate Planning and Administration, Family Law, Health Law, Labor Law and Tax Law.
These specialty areas were designated “to promote the availability, accessibility and quality of the services of lawyers in particular fields of law in order to better serve the public interest and improve public access to appropriate legal services,” according to the Louisiana State Bar Association’s website.
Attorneys can be recognized as Specialists only after completing rigorous application and testing protocols, meant to insure that the attorneys have sufficient experience and the up-to-date knowledge needed to effectively serve their clients. Unlike the Bar exam that only tests minimum competency in certain core areas of the law, the specialization exams test an attorney’s depth of knowledge in a certain field of the law. A minimum of five years of practice devoted toward the specialization area is needed before being eligible to sit for the specialization exam.
Estate Planning and Administration is one of the areas of the law where a Specialist is often needed. Estate law is very different in Louisiana than in other states and there are some areas of estate planning that involve laws and concepts that most attorneys are never exposed to, either in law school or in practice.
A jack of all trades may work for simple wills and successions, but there are times to call in a specialist. Consider looking for assistance from an Estate Planning and Administration Specialist if any of these things are true for you:
- You have a special needs child.
- A loved one is unable to care for himself or his finances anymore, and is no longer competent to appoint someone to help with these tasks.
- A loved one needs to move to an assisted living facility or into a nursing home.
- Following the death of a loved one, there is disharmony among those who survived.
- You and your spouse have each been married before, and each have children from those prior marriages. You want to write out wills that are fair to all involved.
- You own a business and want to plan for it to continue following your death.
- You have been named to serve as Trustee of a trust and need advice about how to do the job correctly.
- You have received a large inheritance or settlement amount and want to plan for those amounts to last beyond your lifetime, so that they benefit your children and grandchildren as much as possible.
Most clients are convinced their planning needs are very simple and ordinary, and many times they are exactly right. Sometimes, though, giant legal problems are camouflaged in the facts of the situation and Specialists can see past the camouflage and guide you around the dangers lurking in the most innocent of paperwork.