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Hi Aging Care Forum,

I need to see an eldercare attorney for my dementia mother who is living in our home. My mom has some cash assets. Does she pay for this attorney visit?
Thank you,
LastOne

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I am currently working on my mom's estate, and have a really good lawyer, who is associated with a tax/financial planner, and also has a good accounting firm across the hall. They are all "solo" not large chains, but it is working out well so far. Before this arrangement we had had several not good experiences-- and all of the bad experiences had to do with wrong information and/or dubious billing practices. So even though you have found "a lawyer" don't assume that what they say is 1) correct, or 2) billed appropriately. For 1) you have to do your own research in advance!!!! Spend lots of hours trying to educate yourself before ever going to the law office!! Cannot stress this point enough--if the lawyer senses you are clue - less about your questions, they can waste quite a lot of time attempting to fill you in all the background info.....and you will pay dearly for this education, unfortunately. For 2) billings, make sure you tell lawyer if you have a specific duty you want done--AND nothing more! As in, don't let all your siblings call up the lawyer and whine about this or that (IT WILL COST YOU....). Also if you come prepared with all the paperwork in order and little tabs on the edges so you can find a certain paper, it will save lots of time...and money. If the lawyer has to go all over town and across state to accumulate needed documents, it will cost you a lot more.
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And thanks to FF too - it's really heartwarming to read of positive experiences with attorneys.

But for someone cringing at paying the hourly cost, think of this....bankruptcy fees for the recently resolved Detroit bankruptcy ran about $600 an hour. Some of the attorneys involved bill at over $1,000 per hour, but it's not clear if they billed at that rate for the bankruptcy.

And yes, even though I'm a supporter of hiring lawyers, I am appalled at how much money these firms skimmed off a bankrupt and struggling city.
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Mincemeat, thanks for sharing your very positive experience with an elder care attorney. So many people just don't realize how much legal and tax issues are tangled up in the whole process of creating estate planning documents, and that without the necessary education and experience, it's like walking through a minefield to try to handle something as critical as end of life planning on one's own without professional help.

The online documents available for download couldn't possibly address all the intertwined and murky areas of tax and estate planning laws.
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Last one, I went to an elder care attorney a few months ago. The fee was $290 per hour. It was one of the most informative, supportive, and important things I have done in a long time. Make the most of this opportunity.

Take a notebook with you. Brainstorm before you go and make a detailed list of questions. Then jot down the answers as you get them. You will probably go over such a large amount of info that you will need to write the answers so that you can refer to them later.

Garden Artist gives great advice...come prepared with all heirs, financial obligation info, asset balances and such.

Good luck!
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LastOne, cost depends on where you live and if you use a solo attorney or a large law firm. And depends on what type of documents the Attorney suggest that your mother wants.

As GardenArtist had pointed out, with your Mom having dementia, it depends if she is still able to understand what she is signing and why. Attorneys can refuse to let a person sign if the Attorney feels the person doesn't understand.

Price depends on where you live, and if you use a solo Attorney or one at a firm. For myself I choose a large law firm here in the Washington DC burbs... yep, it cost me an arm and a leg but my mind is at peace regarding what was done.

I found my Elder Law Attorney here on Aging Care.... I went to the blue bar near the top of the page and clicked on MONEY & LEGAL.... then clicked on ELDER LAW.... then I put my zip code in the search box on that page. If you don't see MONEY & LEGAL near the top of the page, make your font smaller, then it should show up.
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Went to a great Eldercare attorney in my area. They did all the paperwork for $99.00 and for another $50 they filed it with the court. This included POA for medical and financial. Also, this included a last will. Within the first month of coming to live with my mom I took her to the bank, social security, life insurance and we placed the accounts in both of our names. I am handling all her financial affairs. Please make sure everything is in place.
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LastOne, be aware that someone who has dementia may or may not have the capacity to understand and execute legal documents. Raise this when you call tomorrow and ask how it would be handled. This is an aspect that you want to ensure can be addressed by any attorney.

You should also do some background research on any attorney you call. You'll want either an estate planning or elder care attorney. Most attorneys now have websites; check out their "practice areas" to ensure they have specialty attorneys for the elder law and estate planning practice areas.

When you raise the issue of fees, ask if the attorney bills by the hour or a flat rate for a package which might include a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney and Living Will. If there's a need for a trust, that would be more.

You can also ask what the hourly rate is, and don't be surprised if it's $200 - $300.

Prepare a list of your mother's assets (home, vehicle, CDs, IRAs, mutual, stocks, etc.) so that the attorney can assess the best method of handling these now and when they pass to the heirs.

You should also bring names and contact information for all heirs to be included in any Will or Trust.
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Hi Freqflyer,
Thank you for your reply. I will definitely ask. I'll be making the call first thing in the morning. Good to know. Best regards, LastOne
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Thank you Mincemeat for your reply. The appointment will be exactly about that her care and her financial affairs. Best regards, LastOne
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LastOne, when you call the attorney's office ask if the first hour is free. Many law firms do this, some do not. In my opinion, no matter what the price, an Elder Law attorney is worth every dime.
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Yes, I would think that the legal counsel is for information on how to wisely and legally handle her care and financial affairs. So, yes, she should pay for it. Especially if she can afford it.
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