Approximately how much do elder care lawyers charge?

Asked by

Just re entered workforce 1 1/2 yrs ago after being out for ten years caring for parents. Now they need full time help (80 yrs and 74 yrs). They have one rental property but all the rent and then some is going to pay for about 20 hrs a week of help. Trying to see if they could qualify for Medicaid to get them an aide to relieve the financial pressure without them losing what they worked for all their lives with lots of sacrifice. Any advice? I'm afraid of just googling an elder care lawyer without a recommendation. Household expenses just shooting up with their increased needs for supervision. Both parents have limited mobility and require aid dressing bathing etc

Answers 1 to 6 of 6
Recommendations are good if you and the person making the recommendation have the same standards and expect the same quality results. Sometimes a recommendation can be made based on one person's expectation, but that particular attorney doesn't meet the standards of the requesting person.

This is always my suggestion:

1. I believe Houston is in Harris County, Texas. County the Harris County Bar Association or the Houston Bar Association and ask for a list of attorneys in the Elder Care Practice Area.

Or better yet, do your research online; e.g., here's the link to the Houston Bar's services, including clinics, volunteer attorneys, etc.:

http://www.hba.org/services/.

And here's the link to their Elder Law Practice listing:

http://www.hba.org/services/elder-law-services/ (provides for a .pdf downloadable file).

2. Look up the listed firm's websites, check their practice areas, research their archives for articles and read them. Some law firms also periodically have outreach activities to the public, such as educational seminars.

3. Make a short list of potential firms, contact them, ask whether their charges are hourly or a flat rate for preparation of specific documents, and what documents they are. Provide a short explanation of what advice you're seeking - the situation, what you expect in remedies, etc.

4. You'll generally be expected to pay for costs as well, which would include document production (copying) to provide you with conformed and plain copies after execution. Ask also if a retainer is required, and how much.

5. You can also call the Texas State Bar Association and look for similar firms that may be outside of Houston if you don't find a firm with which you're comfortable in the Houston area.

6. Practice areas would be Estate Planning, with possibly an Elder Law specialty, or Elder Law itself. These are the specific fields you want.

7. In my experience, firms with medium to large size practice areas offer more than single practitioners because there are typically various attorneys whose specialties differ slightly but complement each other.

E.g., one attorney might specialize in gift taxation as well as the basic estate planning issues. Another might specialize also in special needs trusts, another in charitable trusts. In a firm these attorneys interact with each other in the event one requires additional specialization for a client.

A firm might also have a real estate practice area, helpful if the client has real estate issues as both attorneys can work together and share client information. It's also helpful in that you don't have to find another law firm and end up with 2 different firms.

Some attorneys also specialize in remedial and interventionary efforts, i.e., conflicts with nursing homes or other care facilities. These firms often include elder law litigation in their practice areas. Not all of the larger firms do elder law litigation.

Although there are undoubtedly good solo practice attorneys, they don't have the resources to complementary practices that law firms do. I've also found that SOME solo attorneys aren't as client oriented as a firm practice is. This is just my opinion; others may have had different experiences.

8. Some law firms produce newsletters addressing important issues in estate planning as well as related tax issues. Generally these are archived on the firm's website. It's helpful to read these - it provides insight into the level of expertise, knowledge and breadth of subject.

9. The firm (which is also one I worked for) which handled my family's estate planning provides a several page inventory of assets to complete prior to the first meeting, so the attorney can consider what's the best way to plan for preservation and eventual distribution of the assets. I always felt that was a sign of looking forward, minimizing time spent asking for an inventory of assets during the first meeting, and being unable to address that aspect because the client was unaware that specific inventories are needed.

10. There's never a 100% guarantee that you'll connect with a firm that matches your own interpretation of what you anticipate and expect from an attorney, but doing your homework first minimizes that possibility.

11. The firm I selected after working for 4 different ones, including a solo practitioner, was reasonable, courteous and very flexible. One of the solos I worked for was so set in his own ways that he ended up in a shouting match with a client while I was present. It was not only embarrassing but unprofessional, and the position he took was totally wrong since he wanted the client to sign a pack of documents about 2" thick without reading them. Bad attorney. Bad practice.

Forgot to answer your question on rates. They vary by area and by practice. In large cities, you could expect to pay up to $600/hour. In smaller areas, it would be a fraction of that, maybe around $200/hour. Or it could be a flat rate such as $2K or $2500 - all depends on the firm and the complexity of the client's requests.

There's no standard across the board rate, but sometimes the ones that produce the standard set of documents without proper consideration for family specifics are more reasonable; sometimes they're not.

Our preferred middle sized firm provided top notch service and advice for a reasonable price; another firm I consulted was a high profile firm, better known firm, but the advice was too complicated for my father to understand, and difficult for me even though I'd worked in law for decades. The rates were hourly and were way out of proportion to the advice provided.

There's variation within the field, so you need to ask first.

It's possible someone will suggest downloading online forms and drafting your own documents. Think seriously before doing this. You're not getting any legal advice at all - just boiler plate forms.

Your statement of concern for Medicaid qualification while retaining the benefits of assets is an example of an issue that can't be addressed by a boiler plate form.
HoustonPat, it is hard to say what would be the approximate hourly rate or fixed amount to do documents.... an one person law firm out in the burbs might charge less compared to a big city law firm.

The important thing is to find an Elder Law attorney you are comfortable with. My attorney was outstanding and worth the high fee she charged [large law firm].

I found my attorney by going to the blue bar near the top of this page and clicking on MONEY & LEGAL.... then clicking on ELDER LAW. In the search mode I put in my zip code. Then I did a Google search on that name and/or firm.
Top Answer
Houston, I'm going to talk to the elephant in the room here.

Your parents worked hard and have an investment propert, and presumably their own home. They worked hard, I assume so that they would not be a burden to the I children.

Here's the thing. It sounds as though the way this is going, they will soon need round the clock care. In most states, Medicaid won't fund that, and you'd have to be fabulously wealthy to be able to afford it. Do the math on the comparative costs of AL, funded by the sale of the rental property and renting out their home, or vice versa. Yes, get en eldercare attorney, but remind yourself that THIS is the rainy day your parents were saving for.
You aren't going to get them qualified for Medicaid when they have assets to pay for their own care. Medicaid is a safety net so we don't have to float destitute seniors out to sea on icebergs. Medicaid is everybody ELSE paying for their care.

An elder care attorney may be able to help preserve some of their assets. That takes time to organize and season.

If you or your parents have an attorney they trust, ask her for a recommendation. Ask your friends, etc.
Babalou, Yes they worked to provide what they could for us. They are very reluctant to go to a nursing home. Of course it may change down the road. My mom just got out of a stint from a hospital stay/rehab facility that lasted over 4 months. My dad had a hip fracture in Dec. We were at the hospital/rehab facility every day with her and tended to my dad at home as well. So within the last 8 months their mobility has been drastically reduced. I received no financial renumeration for the 10 plus years I took off from work to ferry them to various specialists visits (they both required dialysis and transplanted within four years of each other). I am trying to stay back in the workforce and prepare for my own future and would like to see what if anything can be done to protect the rental property and maybe eventually their home should they absolutely need 24/7 care. Will definitely look at the local area on agency as well for some guidance. To think that in a matter of months what took them at least 80 years combined to work for would all be handed over to the government really is amazing. Hard work does not always pay off or get rewarded (unless you age healthy). It's a reality many on this site face though. Thank you all for responding(for the reference point on prices as well Garden Artist).

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