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High Cost Elder Attorney Fee and Finding Options


My mother is trying to do a preplan in the event of nursing home care is needed in the future. She is 75 and in excellent health.

We went to a local Elder law attorney that advertises on the radio a lot so I thought we should give him a try. I also checked out his website and for reviews online. He charges $200 up front for the first meeting if you decide not to take action/go forward at that first meeting but will credit that $200 towards any future work he does in your case.

After filling him in on the details he told us the best way to go was to do;

1. Irrevocable trust
2. Power of Attorney
3. Living will
4. Health care proxy

My mother has a free and clear house and some money market accounts less than 100k. He wants to put the house and the cash into the irrevocable trust and name me (her son) the trustee and beneficiary and have a backup trustee and beneficiary should I try to predecease my mother.

I think there was one other document but I could be wrong as I don't recall every part of the meeting perfectly but I think the 4 documents listed above was it.

His charge was $4,500 plus any document/recording fees of $300 for a total of $4,800.

I was shocked at the cost. He seems knowledgeable and friendly but I thought this would be around $2,000 tops.

Is this guy overcharging for the above work Elder preplanning in Massachusetts?

Where would I go to find other **good** Elder Law attorneys in Massachusetts?

Thanks for your time and effort.

Best regards,

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It is very difficult to determine if your mother is being overcharged.  There are simply too many variables and unknowns.  Start with the fact that different attorneys charge different fees, based on location, reputation, experience, etc.  One person may be comfortable paying $500 per hour (or more) for "top-notch" legal services, while other people are not.

The only advice I can offer (I'm assuming you have not actually told the attorney to do the work yet.)  Is to talk to other estate planning attorneys or elder law attorneys and ask them for estimated costs of the work you describe above.  Most attorneys will discuss the basics, either in person or over the phone, without charging a fee.  Since your mother has limited assets, attorneys should be able to give you some useful information, especially if you specify what you want (based on the other attorney's recommendation).  Good luck.  

Submitted Tue, 04/05/2011 - 10:35

Hi. Attorney Allan Baron here. Legal services are a consumer product and subject to supply and demand. As a consumer it is your duty to do your "due diligence" in seeking out opinions and bids of work to be done.
As a consumer I would speak to three attorneys, compare the recommended course of action, compare the costs and check on the reputation of the attorney. Research the attorneys on the web, and on professional rating directories like
In regard to comparing fees, fees for legal services vary greatly based on complexity, experience of the attorney, time spend, the risk an attorney takes on when
an opinion is rendered, the type of services that are rendered, the cost of running a law office, etc.
If you do these things the next time you need an attorney, you will be able to make an informed decision going forward.

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