Choosing a Professional and “Due Diligence”

Once you identify an elder issue, it is time to decide whether or not you need professional advice and help. Finding and retaining a professional can be expensive, and choosing the wrong professional is not only expensive but time consuming. Understanding an elder issue in advance of a meeting will save you and the professional time and money by allowing you to focus on matters within the scope of the professional’s expertise.

The first question to consider once you identify an elder issue is whether or not you need a professional such as social or case worker, accountant, insurance agent, financial planner, or lawyer? If so, what are the qualifications and reputation of the professional? Does the professional offer advice outside the scope of their expertise? How much will it cost for advice and how are fees charged? If so, is it a flat fee or based on an hourly rate? Does the professional receive a commission or referral fee on a product sold? If you are the child of a parent needing advice, who is responsible for the hiring and who does the professional represent? Once retained, who oversees the planning and is there a procedure to terminate representation? These questions are difficult to answer and even the best advice may not always work according to plan.

Choosing a Professional category provides information to assist in identifying issues that require professional assistance including what is a professional’s expertise and reputation, how to understand professional compensation, who does the professional represent, and how to oversee a professional. This is called “Due Diligence” and these questions should be answered by anyone you intend to hire or retain. In the end, choosing the right professional will provide you with proper guidance as well as being time and cost efficient.

The following is a basic due diligence on US Elder Planning, Matthieu J. Massengill , and Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C.

Q. Who is managing editor and contributor of US Elder Planning?

A. The editor and contributor, Matthieu J. Massengill, is an attorney working with elderly clients and their children, attorneys with elder planning and estate planning practices, Certified Public Accountants (“CPA”), accountants, financial planners, business planners, and insurance agents. In addition, Matthieu J. Massengill collaborates with social and case workers handling elderly issues.

Q. What is the background and expertise of US Elder Planning’s editor and contributor, Matthieu J. Massengill?

A. Matthieu J. Massengill has a Master of Law in Estate Planning and Elder Law and Juris Doctor from Western New England College School of Law. Matthieu J. Massengill practice areas include estate and elder planning, and real estate transactions.

Q. How is US Elder Planning compensated for the information that it provides?

A. US Elder Planning runs advertisements generated by Google. US Elder Planning receives a portion of the revenue generated from the advertising. US Elder Planning’s goal is to earn enough in advertising revenue to offset the costs associated with web hosting, maintenance, and expense of the contributor’s time and expertise so as to avoid the need for user fees. However, US Elder Planning reserves the rights to change the site’s business model in order to make it viable and continue to offer elder planning information.

Q. How is Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. compensated for legal work?

A. Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. provides written proposals for estate and elder planning and provides engagement/fee agreement letters to all clients prior to accepting a retainer or fee. A legal fee is based upon the nature of the legal work, the time needed to effectively complete the legal work, and the demand for the services of the firm. The firm and the client mutually agree to a fee in advance of any fee or retainer being paid. The firm also provides fee guidelines to clients. In some instances, the fee is based upon an hourly rate. The firm provides time estimates to complete a planning project. In other instances, the fee is based upon a flat rate plus hourly rate. For example, a flat fee is charged to a client to create a business entity and the firm would charge an hourly rate for ongoing representation of the client’s business. In rare cases dealing only with medical malpractice and personal injury of an elder individual, Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. will enter into a contingent fee agreement with the individual.

Q. If I am a child seeking legal advice for a parent, who does Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. represent?

A. Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. provides both the parent and child a letter setting forth who the firm represents which in most cases will be the parent and not the child.

Q. Who oversees Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. and what type of controls does a client or child of a client have over advice given by Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C.?

A. Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. and the client enter into a written engagement/fee agreement which sets forth the scope of representation, fee and payment terms, services not included, joint representation (if allowed and needed), cooperation and confidentiality, and termination of representation.

Q. Does Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. have third party arrangements with financial or insurance groups.

A. Matthieu J. Massengill desires to maintain independence and only represents the client’s interest. Therefore, Matthieu J. Massengill has not nor intends to enter into agreements with any financial or insurance groups in which a fee is paid to the firm for referring clients to the financial or insurance group. These types of arrangements are becoming more prevalent in the legal field. It is the opinion of Matthieu J. Massengill that such arrangements distort the judgment of the attorney irrespective of disclosures given to the client.

Q. What other due diligence should been done on US Elder Planning, Matthieu J. Massengill, Esquire, and Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C.?

A. In addition to asking and receiving answers to the foregoing questions, you may perform additional due diligence by checking references and web entries.