Elder Law is that area of the law dealing with the legal problems persons experience as they grow older. It is one of the newer areas in the field of law. Until recently, there was not a need to law in this are because people did not grow old. They died before having to deal with most of the issues with which Elder Law is concerned. In 1940, the average life expectancy of a man was 60.5 years and a woman slightly longer. Today, the life expectancy of men and women ranges between 75 and 80 years. However, if one lives to that age, statistics indicate that such a person will live an additional 9 to 11 years. As society ages, health issues and financial issues occur more and more frequently. The focus of our firm is to assist our clients in dealing with these issues in order to protect and preserve both health and resources to the greatest extent possible.
I established my law firm in 1977. From 1977 through 1987, I practiced in Coraopolis, a small town in Southwestern, Pennsylvania near the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport. In 1987, I moved my main office to Pittsburgh where I have been practicing to the present. I maintain a suburban office in Coraopolis/Moon Township for the convenience of my clients in that area. Elder Law has always been a part of my practice. Since 1990, it has occupied a majority of my time and since 1995, I have been concentrating on that area exclusively.
I was contacted by the grandson of a wealthy businessman. The business man was in poor health physically and not thinking clearly. He was being attended to by a staff taking advantage of him financially and not providing the appropriate medical care resulting in his health condition rapidly deteriorating. I brought a Petition for the appointment of a guardian which the alleged incapacitated objected to; he hired an attorney to contest the action. After litigation, I was able to put the guardianship in place, worked with the guardian of his person and estate to remove the attending staff and substitute new caregivers and financial administrators. Result: Health greatly improved and incapacitated person extended his life by several years.
A 94 year old client of mine, with whom I had been dealing with for ten years, began to fail rapidly in a physical sense, although he maintained his mental acuity. He experienced problems with his legs resulting in his inability to drive a vehicle anymore. Then, he experienced kidney failure which resulted in the necessity of dialysis several times a week. He told me that he did not wish to live under such circumstances and that he intended to refuse any further dialysis. His daughter, whom he had appointed as his agent under his Power of Attorney and the Executrix of his Will, could not understand why he wanted to "give up" and indicated she would contest any action which he attempted to take.
I told him that I would help him, but in order to accomplish his objective, he had to make certain changes in his Estate Plan. These were: (1) change the Agent under the Power of Attorney from his daughter to me and (2) change the Executor of his Estate from his daughter to me.
The reason I did this was that if his daughter remained his Agent under a Power of Attorney, at such time as he lapsed into a condition where he was not able to tell the doctors what he wanted or did not want, his daughter acting under the Power of Attorney could insist that the doctors reinstitute dialysis. I told him that if he appointed me as his Agent under the Power of Attorney, I would honor his wishes and would just make sure that he was made comfortable. As far as the change in Executor of his Estate, I told him I was concerned that if I took such action to permit nature to take its course, that his daughter if she remained Executor of his Estate, would bring a legal action against me.
My client agreed with me. I changed the Power of Attorney and Will in accordance with our discussion and his wishes. The man died peacefully. His daughter reconciled herself to the fact that he was over 90 years old and had a different perception of life than she as a 40 year old. She accepted his decision, accepted his passing and his death was peaceful.
Four Gateway Center 444 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15222
I charge an initial consultation fee of $150. If the client chooses to proceed, I incorporate that fee into the general fee quoted. I also tell the client that if they decide to proceed in the future, the money that they have paid will constitute a part of the general fee. I could offer an incentive to NOLO clients such as not charging for the first half hour.
I do not have fixed priced services or fees per se. The reason for this is that every matter that I have been involved with throughout my career has been unique. Every client is different. Every client has a situation that is unlike that of any other. As such, every client deserves individual attention. That having been said, I do have ranges of prices depending on the nature of the case. My goal is to produce the best possible result at the least amount of expense.
Currently, our rates range between $100 per hour and $275 per hour. I use hourly rates very judiciously. Long experience has taught me that clients greatly resent "hourly rates". They are much more amenable to a fixed price. Then, they know what is expected of them and they can plan. The only times I quote hourly fees are when the matter is open-ended and I really don't know how long or how difficult the case will be. However, even in those instances, I will quote a ballpark figure and set a maximum.
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Evening and weekends by appointment.
I have always had an affinity towards the elderly. I have always had patience, been a good listener and felt comfortable interacting with the elderly. I think that my skills have enabled me to develop an excellent rapport with my clients.
As a young attorney struggling to make a living, I accepted most business that walked through the door. As I acquired more clients and was able to hone my skills, I was able to become more selective in the types of cases that I wanted to take. As I grew older in the practice of law, I noticed that more and more people were becoming concerned about what the future held for them, yet very few attorneys were attracted to this area. Additionally, it was something that I really enjoyed, so I started cultivating more and more elderly clients. Colleagues began to refer cases to me and, eventually, I found myself in a position where I could practice in this area alone and that's what I did. It took me approximately 25 years as an attorney before I found this niche.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This area of law, as all areas of law at this time, are highly specialized. Clients always have a part of the picture, never the whole picture. When I accept a case, I consider one of my primary objectives to be educating my clients in an appropriate fashion. That includes correcting any incorrect assumptions they have arrived at through their process of self-education.
That having been said, I consider my role to be that of an advisor. Sometimes there are different ways of resolving a problem taking into consideration many factors. In those situations, I will apprise my clients of the alternatives and tell them the advantages and disadvantages of the various alternatives and, finally, give my recommendation as to which alternative I would choose and give the reasons for that. I believe that by imparting my knowledge, I have fulfilled my responsibility to them and will work to implement whatever action they select.
I am always willing to review documents submitted to me by my clients. If I find the document to be satisfactory, I will so advise. If I find it unsatisfactory, I will counsel them as to why I believe it to be so, exactly what it is that they need and the cost thereof.
I am willing to assist them in that regard, so long as they are willing to pay my fee for doing so.
• Officer, United States Marine Corp
• Teacher, Pittsburgh Public School System
• During law school, worked as an intern with Neighborhood Legal Services Association
• Following law school, Staff attorney with Neighborhood Legal Services Association - 1971 - 1973
• Clerk for Judge I. Martin Wexelman, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania - 1973 - 1975
• Associate Attorney — Law Firm of Messer and Schilibod - 1975 — 1977
• Principal — Jay L. Fingeret, Esquire, Attorney-at-Law -1977 - present
Work experience, education and life experience, all of it, acting together, has made me a better lawyer and continues to improve upon my skills and ability. Through the course of my life and experiences, I have developed a deep spirituality. Life's experience over all has given me a great insight into and deep understanding of my fellow man. I have been able to incorporate this into my practice when interacting with my clients.
My strengths are patience, the ability to listen, the ability to relate to people, the ability to analyze problems, create a plan for solving the problems and implement the plan in a time-efficient manner. I see clients in my office, but also travel to meet them wherever is most convenient for them, be it in their home, in the hospital or in a skilled nursing facility.Personal interests:
I enjoy golf, exercise, reading, including American Revolution, Civil War and Middle East, interaction with friends, children and grandchildren.
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