Many of us worry about the high cost of lawyers, and feel that we can now go online and find all the free form and free advice we need. While it is admirable to arm themselves with information in the field of elder law, Medicaid planning is not a do-it-yourself projects
One simple example: You find a form for dealers online and then sign it, or parent sign it. It was either free or $ 10, so you feel pretty good about it. After all, was not saved just big legal fees? But what you failed to notice is that some important provisions were available in the “public” proxy form and when the time comes that you have to use the form, it is too late to get it fixed. Your mother may now be incapacitated and unable to sign a new proxy form, forcing you to hire a lawyer to represent you in charge / conservatorship continues. So now you are faced with spending thousands of dollars, but the payment to a lawyer to prepare a top-of-the-line durable general mandate to the lawyer might have been only $ 150 or so.
Another example is with Medicaid planning. You heard or read somewhere that it’s a good idea to have a father gift away his property, so that he will be “poor” when applying for Medicaid, so to protect their money. But you do not know about recent changes to federal law on the calculation of penalties. So your father is ineligible for Medicaid eligibility for many months or years, when the correct and careful planning on the part of Medicaid specialist lawyer he could easily have saved half if not all the money your father!
attorney billing methods
It should be noted that not all elder care lawyers take the same amount or even use the same method to calculate their charges. First, it is the traditional method of collection, which is to charge by the hour. Most lawyers charge in 1/10 hour increments x hourly rate. Be aware that although inexperienced lawyer will usually have a lower hourly rate than the one who has spent many years focusing on this area of the law, inexperienced lawyer will undoubtedly take a lot longer to figure out what to do and do it. Such charges may not be much different at the end of your case, and you will have paid for the education of the less experienced lawyer.
second billing method is to charge a flat fee for a particular project. The advantage to the customer is that they know up front what the cost will be and do not need to watch the clock carefully. The advantage of a lawyer is that he is able to be rewarded for efficiency and hopefully pay for many unpaid hours crafting effective forms to solve the problems of his clients.
The third approach combines the two, so set-up is $ X for the following documents or legal work, which includes a maximum Y number of hours. The idea here is that if something comes up after the project gets started, or the customer is very demanding and requires many changes to documents, ask a zillion questions, etc., as a lawyer will not get stuck working for free.
In any case, you as a potential customer has every right to ask for a lawyer you are considering hiring any costs could be for legal work. Since the facts of every case are different, it may be impossible for a lawyer to give you an accurate picture, but you should at least find out what time rates and other similar matters has cost. Again, take into account the experience and expertise of the lawyer you are considering. There is no agreement if you save $ 1,000 in legal fees if the less-than-optimal document or plan wind up costing you $ 10,000 in a few years from now!