Elder law is a relatively new area of the law, yet there is a good chance that you will need an elder law attorney at some point in your life. You may find yourself in need of an elder law attorney or you may be the caretaker of an older loved one who is need of advice and assistance from an elder law attorney. Either way, you will likely have a number of questions for your elder law attorney, such as “How are elder law fees handled?” Because each attorney has his or her own system of determining fees there is no simple answer to that question that will apply to all situations; however, a more thorough understanding of what an elder law attorney does and how fees are typically handled may be helpful.
The elderly have always had unique legal needs and issues but it wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that the elderly population grew to the point where the legal community began to recognize the extent of those needs and issues. During the 1980s and early 1990s the area now known as “elder law” began to take shape in the legal community. Attorneys realized that the elderly population was growing at a fast pace and that the issues and concerns faced by the elderly and those who care for them were going to continue to grow as well. Therefore, a small number of attorneys began to specialize in those issues and concerns, tailoring their practices to helping the elderly and their caregivers resolve those legal issues. Today, elder law is an established area of the law; however, it remains an area in which only a small percentage of attorneys focus their efforts and practices.
An elder law attorney doesn’t focus on one specific area of the law. Instead the focus is on a specific segment of the population and the legal issues faced by them. As such, an elder law attorney could handle a contract dispute, prepare a trust agreement, and assist with an appeal for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) all for the same client. Most elder law attorney, therefore, charge clients by the hour. An estimate of the final charges is used to determine a retainer fee. The retainer is like a down payment. Hourly charges are then billed against the retainer fee until it is depleted at which point an additional retainer fee may be requested.
If you have specific questions about elder law fees, be sure to consult with your Texas elder law attorney in person to make sure there are no misunderstandings down the road.