Hourly rate for elder law attorney?

Asked by

Assuming the elder law attorney I am considering is honest and good at their job is $550.00/hr a usual amount to pay for their services?
How can I know if they are good, anyway.

Answers 1 to 10 of 10
Expert Answer
425 helpful answers
As an elder law attorney for 25 years, I have seen charges vary quite a bit. Most elder law attorneys who charge by the hour will charge more if they are very experienced, less if they are freshly minted from law school and want to build a practice. Next factor is the going rate in the city, which is related to the overall cost of living in that city. Thus, Boston lawyers with years of experience may charge $600 an hour, while a young attorney in Kansas may charge $125 an hour.

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.
I have know idea what an elder law atty. fees are. However $550 per hr. seems
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?
I live in AZ where the capital is Phoenix (about 3 million people). I don't know of ANY high-powered attorney who charges $550/hr. for services. I worked for the most prestigious firms too. I guess any attorney can charge anything if he/she can find someone who will pay their fees. We had the best elder attorney for my mother, and he charged about $175/hr., but after he was consulted, he just kept a file of our situation. You can check your state's bar association for the number of complaints lodged against this attorney, there will be a review of his/her peers and you can consult other attorneys in other areas of law who will recommend an elder attorney. Do not pay this fee is my professional opinion. My husband was an attorney and he would never charge $550/hr. Now if you happen to be in the financial class as Donald Trump, then it sounds reasonable. Good luck!
I live in Florida. Depending on the issues, I have found that most elder law attys. charge from $250-300 an hour, which is not out of line with other atty. rates. If you are in a money bind, or your loved one is, call your local or state Elder Affairs people for references to lawyers who do discounted or sometimes pro bono work for elders as a form of "giving back." I was able to find someone who could help that way. I would advise you to do your research and know exactly what you are seeking before you make a call or appointment. Note: a longtime family lawyer who has worked for an elderly parent will feel first allegiance to the former client and protective of that atty.-client relationship. In my experience, it is probably best to check out and go with someone new. You can ask for copies of any estate-planning or other relevant documents at any time since you have POA. You may have to pay a fee for copying if they are extensive but that is rare. Check safe deposit boxes for documents, also. Good luck.
Ssansgal - I forgot to mention that the reason for having your father call him or bringing your father with you is to give the attorney permission to speak to you on your father's behalf. If you didn't have that permission, you'd be trying to see the attorney on your own behalf which would be a conflict of interest on the attorneys part because he can't represent you both. Understand?
FYI, If you are a veteran and have an ID card, or the spouse, you can get free legal help. We just had my mothers will and power of attorney done at Ft Jackson, in Columbia. I am sure most know this but thought I would mention it. We did not realize my mother qualified since she does not receive full or medical government assistance. This was such a blessing to us and saved so much money. She is on a very limited income and we were so thankful for this service.

Warm wishes,

Momcare- although 15K seems high, it may not be depending on just what the attrny or their firm are doing. If there are guardianship or trusts that need to be managed; & property or investments that "feed" the trusts & taxes filed for, well all that has costs to do. 15K for an "all in" may be a bargain as the law firm co-ordinates with other professionals like a financial advisor, CPA, etc.
freshair76 - I agree with everyone here, $550 is a bit high. Average maybe around $275 unless you're dealing with Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, etc., the high priced places.

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.
Wow! I do not know what state you are in but that seems totally outrageous to me! I took Mom to an attorney for her Trust and he was $300 per hour and to just update her existing Trust cost a total of $800 which I thought was outrageous, especially when they basically use the same forms for most everyone and have them downloaded on their computers and just punch in the next persons name! I would check around and get some quotes. There are agencies for the aging and they may be able to direct you to someone.
I recently paid $350 to an elder care specialist firm in Orlando, FL. I thought that was a hefty sum for what turned out to be less than an hour. However, I was desperate and under time constraints so paid - and of course they want the fee up front. Just be sure you have all your questions, all your documents, everything you have as back up, or have questions about ready to go so when you do sit down with the lawyer, your time and money will not be wasted. In any event, $550 seems completely out of line and I would keep searching.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support