Frequently Asked Questions
Who is The Sketchley Law Firm, P.A.?
The Sketchley Law Firm is a firm specializing in elder law, founded by Twyla Sketchley, a Florida Bar board certified Elder Law Attorney. Our support staff includes a Receptionist and Legal Assistant/Paralegal. Please view our website for more information about our office and staff.
What areas of law does The Sketchley Law Firm handle?
Our practice is focused on Elder Law. We can assist you and your family with a variety of matters including estate planning, incapacity planning, guardianship, long term care planning, end of life care, exploitation prevention and recovery, residential issues, domestic relation issues, blended family care issues, trusts, probate administration, disability, insurance issues, government services and entitlements, public benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and many other areas.
Where is your office located?
Our office is located in the Professional Center at Southwood, 3689 Coolidge Court, Suite 8, Tallahassee, Florida 32311. We are a few blocks north of the State of Florida SouthWood Office Complex and a block from the First District Court of Appeals. Please call our office before you stop by to ensure a staff member will be available to meet with you.
What are your office hours?
Our office hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Our office is closed to our clients and the public on Friday so we can work on your case without interruption.
How can I set an appointment with the Attorney?
To set an appointment, you must speak with our Receptionist or Legal Assistant. Please specify whether you are a current client with an open case or if you need an initial appointment with the Attorney for a new matter. Our staff will ask you to provide some basic information about yourself and your legal matter and provide you with directions regarding our initial intake process and your initial appointment.
Can I speak with the attorney directly?
If you are not a client of the firm, our attorneys are unable to speak with you unless you schedule an initial appointment and follow our initial intake procedures. At the time of the initial appointment you will meet directly with the attorney.
If you are a client of the firm, in many circumstances the Receptionist or Legal Assistant may be able to address your question or concern (and at a lower cost than speaking directly with an attorney). In instances when the Receptionist or Legal Assistant are unable to address your question, you will speak to the attorney. If your attorney is unavailable at the time you call the office, you will be asked to leave a detailed message that will be forwarded to the attorney. If our staff or attorney believes your issue may require a more lengthy discussion, you will be asked to schedule an appointment to speak with the attorney at a time that is convenient for you.
It is important to remember that your case may be billed each time you speak with the Attorney or staff. Naturally the Attorney bills at a higher hourly rate than our staff members. By allowing our knowledgeable staff to address questions or concerns that do not require direct interaction with the Attorney, you are controlling the fees billed in your case. If the office staff determines that your question or concern requires the Attorney’s attention, your issue will be forwarded to the Attorney for review and follow-up.
When can I have an initial appointment?
Our initial appointments are scheduled by our receptionist or Legal Assistant. We usually schedule our initial appointments for a specific day each week. When you contact our office for an initial appointment, you will be offered an appointment at our next available initial appointment date. You will be asked to complete and return an initial intake packet prior to your initial appointment, as well. This allows us to provide you with as much information during the initial appointment as possible. Please contact our office to discuss the next available appointment date.
Do you provide a free consultation?
No, our office is unable to offer initial consultations free of charge. Please contact Legal Services of North Florida at (850) 385-9007, the Tallahassee Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at (850) 681-0601 or The Florida Bar Referral Service (800) 342-8011 to locate an attorney who may be able to provide a free consultation.
Do you provide free or pro bono legal services?
Our firm does provide free or pro bono legal services. However, due to the volume of requests our firm receives for free legal services, our pro bono legal work is limited to our practice area (elder law) and referrals made to us through Legal Services of North Florida. If you believe you qualify for free or pro bono legal services please contact Legal Services of North Florida at (850) 385-9007.
I am unable to come into your office for my initial appointment. Can you come to my home or facility for the initial appointment?
We do provide house calls for those who are unable to come to our office so long as they live within a reasonable distance of our office. When you schedule an initial appointment, notify our Legal Assistant that you will need a house call. You will have to return the intake packet pursuant to the initial intake process requirements. There may be an additional cost for the house call, depending on where you live.
I will be bringing a family member or friend with me to my appointment. Can they attend my meeting with the attorney?
Generally, no, and when it is allowed depends on the specific situation. The meetings between an attorney and a client are subject to the attorney/client privilege. This privilege means that what is said between you and your attorney is confidential and cannot be disclosed. If someone attends that meeting with you, they may not be covered by the attorney/client privilege and may be forced to disclose the content of your conversations with the attorney. In addition, there are several reasons why attorneys may not be able to have another person in your meeting with you. Those reasons are more fully explained at the ABA brochure Understanding the Four C’s of Elder Law Ethics. Depending on your specific circumstances and the matters you need to address, your friend or family member may be asked to wait in our comfortable waiting room, while you discuss your matters with the attorney.
I live out of the area and cannot come to your office. Can I have a telephone appointment?
We do allow for initial calls by telephone for individuals who are out of the area. When you schedule an initial appointment, notify our Legal Assistant that you need an initial appointment by telephone. You will have to return the intake packet and any payment prior to your initial appointment. You will be provided with specific instructions at the time you schedule your initial appointment.
Who do I contact if I want to refer an acquaintance, friend or family member to your office?
We consider it one of the highest honors when you refer your friends or family to us. You can contact us to notify us that you have referred a friend or family member to our office. However, due to the rules that regulate how attorneys must operate as professionals, we are unable to contact someone who you are referring without them having contact with our office first. Please instruct the individual whom you have referred to contact our office and set an initial appointment to meet with an Attorney.
Who do I contact if I want to refer a client or customer to your office?
We consider it an honor when attorneys, accountants, physicians, financial planners, social workers, discharge planners, facility administrators, and other professionals refer their clients to us. We have worked jointly with both local and out-of-state attorneys to provide quality representation to their clients in the area of elder law. We have developed a strong group of supporting professionals to assist our clients in the many different facets of elder law.
You can contact us to notify us that you have referred a friend or family member to our office. However, due to the rules that regulate how attorneys must operate as professionals, we are unable to contact someone who you are referring without them having contact with our office first. Please instruct the individual whom you have referred to contact our office and set an initial appointment to meet with an Attorney. If you will be attending the meeting with your client, please have them advise us at the time they make their appointment.
How much will it cost if The Sketchley Law Firm assists me with my legal matter?
The cost of your legal matter is dependent upon the type of matter, the amount of time the firm must spend working on your matter and how much cooperation we received from you. Some matters are handled for a flat fee while others are handled on an hourly rate basis. Our staff is prohibited from setting fees or quoting fees due to the rules regulating how attorneys and their staff must operate.
When you meet with the attorney, she will discuss with you the fees and costs associated with your legal matter, any retainer, your payment options, and ways you can reduce those costs.
How will I know what I am being charged in regard to my legal matter?
If you retain The Sketchley Law Firm, P.A. to represent you, you will sign a representation or fee agreement with the firm. That agreement outlines what you will be charged regarding your legal matter, how often you will be billed, when your bills are due, what your retainer/deposit will be, and the services the firm will provide. You will receive a copy of this agreement. You will also be notified if any legal work falls outside the work outlined in the agreement.
Who do I contact if I am already a client and have a true legal emergency?
Our after-hours emergency contacts are limited only to current clients. We cannot provide assistance to non-clients.
If you are a current client and believe you have an emergency during office hours, please contact our main telephone line (850) 894-0152 and inform the Receptionist of your legal emergency. The Receptionist will forward your call to the appropriate party or send an urgent message if the appropriate party is unavailable at the time of your call.
Outside of office hours, please contact the main telephone line and follow the verbal instructions in the voice mail answering system for emergency calls.
If you have a medical or mental health emergency, please dial 911. Our office is not the appropriate contact for medical or mental health emergencies.
I believe my estate plan is simple, so can you just give me the forms and I can fill them out myself?
The Sketchley Law Firm does not sell or give away legal forms. Legal services are not merely providing pieces of paper or fill-in-the-blank forms. Legal services include legal advice based on a comprehensive review of your specific situation, your family, your needs, and your goals; making sure you understand what the documents do and don’t do for you; and, supervision of the execution of any legal documents. Legal services also include instructions on how to disseminate your information and protect yourself from the abuse that can come from appointing the wrong fiduciary.
The distribution of pre-printed forms without legal guidance often leads to catastrophic consequences to those who are unaware of the legal consequences of those documents. Correcting those consequences is usually far more expensive than obtaining the advice and guidance of a good attorney in your initial planning.