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.

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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.
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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?
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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,

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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.
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DaughterLu, there are more than a few possible causes of action:

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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Thanks, Send. I always appreciate your compliments!
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