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Note that most Medicaid planning by attorneys will be charged as a flat fee for a certain package of planning services, so no hourly fees would apply to that. Often if a trust or other legal document is to be prepared for a client there will be a flat fee, since the attorney is starting with a form they have developed and updated over the years and to charge strictly for the time it takes to modify for the next client does not compensate the attorney for all the non-billed time they put in creating and updating the form and their knowledge related to the form and its application to various situations. Hence a flat fee is fairer to all concerned, for such documents.
I hope that helps. As to whether a particular charge is "too high" or not, it depends on the going rate in your area, what other similarly experienced attorneys charge, the expertise and specialized training of the attorney, and the results obtained.
outragious to me.
I recently called my father's attorney, who he's had for years, to make an appointment to see him. I explained how he is failing, and was recently evaluated while in the hospital, with some dementia and anger issues. He told me in order for him to speak with me I needed my father to call him or come in with me. I am the sole caregiver and have POA. I only wanted advise on certain things. I told him I was thinking of seeing an elder law atty. He paused and said, "I wouldn't want you to bring someone else into this". I wasn't asking to change anything. Does it make sense to have my father present when he has some dementia and anger issues?
Ssansgal - if your dad has dementia, his signature on any legal document could be questionable. An attorney who already knows him and his wishes is more likely to allow him to sign prepare documents and backup the signature at a later date. I think that's what he's trying to tell you when you talking about "bringing someone else into this". I think he's doing you a favor but he doesn't want to say it out loud.
1. Having worked in law for most of my career, I would never consider an elder law attorney for a medical malpractice issue. This is a specialized area, and there are plaintiff med mal as well as defense med mal attorneys. The former concentrate on a variety of med mal issues, including but not limited to wrongful death. The defense attorneys represent hospitals, doctors and other medical providers.
2. Med mal plaintiffs' attorneys are business people as much as they are attorneys. Age of the individual harmed is definitely a factor. If a case were to be won, actuarial tables come into play in computing injury. E.g., a wrongful death jury award for a younger person would produce a reward that's significantly higher than one for an older person. The issue of longevity is obviously a factor here.
So attorneys aren't going to get as much of a fee from an award for an elder person's death.
3. Other factors complicate an older person's wrongful death as well. There could be co-morbidity factors, so the issue of establishing wrongful death is not as clear cut as, say, for someone killed in a car accident, or, say, a younger person with no cardiac problems who dies suddenly of cardiac issues.
4. Med mal attorneys in my experience always find a practicing doctor in the relevant field to support the conclusion of wrongful death, or malpractice. A good attorney (and sometimes this is mandated by state statute) needs to have corroborating opinions from doctors who will testify if the case goes to trial.
5. Long story made short, some attorneys don't want to bother with med mal cases for older people, or even younger people, if the rewards aren't there, if malpractice can't be supported by medical witnesses/testimony, or if the damage/injuries don't preclude the individual harmed from continuing to lead a "normal" life.
An example is someone I knew whose lung was erroneously removed due to misdiagnosis. The doctor misread and misdiagnosed her lung condition as being cancerous.
It was discovered after this woman's lung was removed that the lung was not cancerous, but despite what we thought was an excellent case was rejected by the law firms I knew who were top med mal attorneys. The issue: the woman could still survive on one lung.
To me, that's a travesty and callous conclusion, but it reflects the monetary approach of med mal law in some firms.
As to other possible causes of action:
A. Refusal to provide documents while insisting on a signature is a contractual issue. People have the right to read, question, and understand what they're signing as well as have a copy for their records.
There's also no justification, or validity in asking your brother who apparently had no POA authority to sign the contract in lieu of year. If he did sign w/o authority, I doubt his signature would be valid.
B. A possible issue on this also would be denial of informed consent. If you're precluded from reading something, the issue arises whether or not you had the opportunity to be "informed". Whether or not the contract could be considered invalid is not something on which I can offer an opinion, but it would be something to consider if you do find an attorney who will consider your situation.
More detail is appropriate on this issue. It seems something is missing - why would your brother have been asked to sign if he wasn't even in the area or wasn't a proxy under a POA or DPOA?
Who eventually signed the contract? Did you ever get a copy?
3. I honestly don't know what practice area would encompass libel, slander and/or character defamation. It would be a litigation area, but beyond that I have no experience in this area and couldn't offer a reliable opinion.
4. Lastly, you'll probably have to go to the largest city in your area for find an attorney to pursue the med mal case, and to advise whether it's a case worth pursuit. There are more attorneys in large cities than in rural areas.
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