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Fuming - and need advice

CJ2008

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A few months ago like October or so I was calling around for a potential elder law attorney for my mom and dad - to possibly put together a POA and also because I was starting to think whether we needed to do anything to prepare for Medicaid should they ever need it.

I called only attorneys who offered a free consultation.

I just got an invoice from one of those attorneys for $504 and in a separate email a reminder of my invoice and "Consistent with your communications with our office prior to the conference the portion pertaining to estate planning only was not billed as a complimentary consultation; the invoice reflects only that portion pertaining to elder law and Medicaid planning."

I am shocked. And angry. And upset.

It's been a few months so my memory is really fuzzy - but there WAS one office whose receptionist I got into a bit of scuffle with because she kept saying "oh well they can't give you very specific information if you ask very pointed questions it's not free" something along those lines. And I remember telling her I am not looking for free information - I am trying to decide which office may be the right fit for us. You said you offer a free consultation if at any point anything I ask is too specific I am expecting the lawyer will tell me right then and there that's going too deep and will be covered if we move forward."

Something along those lines.

I had a conversation with this lawyer and from what I remember I don't think I asked that many questions - she gave me a lot of information but in my mind it was general - she covered some sample scenarios, etc. (I do have notes from that conversation). And we *did* talk about Medicaid and elder law - but I mean - I went into the phone call thinking it was a complimentary consultation - so I did not worry about what we talked about or didn't.

And now that I think of it, the issue w the receptionist *HAS* to have been the office because after I hung up I remember telling DH "wow, the attorney was really nice. I am so glad I didn't let what happened with the receptionist keep me from actually going through with the phone call. She was actually the nicest out of the 3 I called." (this lawyer actually shed some tears with me towards the end of the call speaking about taking care of elderly parents because I had asked her how she got into the field.)

The conversation was about 40 minutes long I think - maybe 30 - but again, at that time it did not phase me because originally they had said that the complimentary consultation was 30 minutes.

Of course going back now it will be my word against the receptionist's. Who will surely skew it to fit being able / entitled to giving me this invoice.

I am so mad and scared because I feel like there's going to be no way I can "win" this.

I already called and left a vm and email back explaining I had zero understanding or information that any part of the phone call would be billable. But I don't know what else I should do. :(sad :angryfire: I just don't feel hopeful I'm going to get back an "I'm sorry that should have never gone out." And this will be a battle. :((
 

the_mother_thing

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That stinks, and I am sorry that happened. I might be inclined to ask them for a copy of the agreement you signed retaining them for legal advice for which you then would be billed.
 

missy

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CJ that sucks and you should refuse to pay it. Call the specific attorney you had the consultation with and tell him/her throughout the consultation no indication was made that it was not all included under the promised free consultation. You were led to believe that the entire consultation was complimentary and at no time were you notified that now this part would be charged. And that you refuse to pay the bill. Period. I just asked my dh and he told me words to this effect. Honestly that was exactly what I was thinking anyway. I am sorry and you should not under any circumstances pay a penny of this bill.
 

CJ2008

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Thank you JoCoJenn and Missy.

JoCoJenn said:
That stinks, and I am sorry that happened. I might be inclined to ask them for a copy of the agreement you signed retaining them for legal advice for which you then would be billed.
I looked through my emails quickly and I do have the email where I ask if they offer a free consultation, to which they responded, yes, it's a 30 minute free consultation. Although she did end up giving me to a different lawyer who also deals with Medicaid issues etc. - so that's what she's going to grab onto - that the original email doesn't apply. But there is nothing in writing that says anything that I would pay for the call or any parts of the call.

missy said:
CJ that sucks and you should refuse to pay it. Call the specific attorney you had the consultation with and tell him/her throughout the consultation no indication was made that it was not all included under the promised free consultation. You were led to believe that the entire consultation was complimentary and at no time were you notified that now this part would be charged. And that you refuse to pay the bill. Period. I just asked my dh and he told me words to this effect. Honestly that was exactly what I was thinking anyway. I am sorry and you should not under any circumstances pay a penny of this bill.
I was thinking that, actually, to ask to speak to the lawyer - one because she was nice and I have a feeling she would "know" based on what we discussed that I was under the impression it was a complimentary consultation. That's if she remembers me since it was back a few months (although the fact that it got emotional would help a lot.) She may not even know they're charging me.

But yes in my VM and the email I explained that at no point was I told that there would a charge for the call or any part of it and that I was under the impression that it was 100% complimentary. I did not use the words that I refuse to pay the bill - but I will if they say I need to pay it / fight me on it (thank you for asking your DH!) And I will also ask for the attorney I spoke with.

I think I am just wrought with not wanting to deal with this if they dig their heels in. :blackeye: But I'll do what I have to do.
 

momhappy

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I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. Unfortunately, without being able to recall everything from memory, you will be at a disadvantage. If you ended up meeting with a different attorney (other than the one that gives free consultations), and you discussed topics that weren't part of a free consultation, then the bill could be accurate (not that it makes it fair). I would call and explain your confusion - maybe you can get a portion (or all if you're VERY lucky) of the bill reduced. I wish you lots of luck in dealing with it. It sucks, but I hope that it works out for you.
 

missy

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CJ stick to your guns and refuse to pay. Bait and switch is illegal and I would even threaten to report them to the law board (or whatever organization exists like that...in medicine we have medical boards not sure of law...will ask my dh). Don't let them take advantage of you. You shouldn't have to pay a dime! IMO.
 

CJ2008

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momhappy|1455887551|3992863 said:
I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. Unfortunately, without being able to recall everything from memory, you will be at a disadvantage. If you ended up meeting with a different attorney (other than the one that gives free consultations), and you discussed topics that weren't part of a free consultation, then the bill could be accurate (not that it makes it fair). I would call and explain your confusion - maybe you can get a portion (or all if you're VERY lucky) of the bill reduced. I wish you lots of luck in dealing with it. It sucks, but I hope that it works out for you.
Thanks momhappy.

I am definitely at a disadvantage.

It was a different attorney but she never said that the one I was going to speak with doesn't offer free consultations...or that the ORIGINAL attorney was the only one who offers free consultations...

I did already call and email - but because I am at a disadvantage - and they know it, I don't expect anything other than that they will dig their heels in. And I don't expect the unprofessional receptionist to own up to the fact that yes, there definitely must have been / could have been a confusion because I in fact never agreed to go into the call where some parts/portions of I may have to be paid. :/

My best hope is to talk to the attorney again.
 

CJ2008

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missy|1455887868|3992868 said:
CJ stick to your guns and refuse to pay. Bait and switch is illegal and I would even threaten to report them to the law board (or whatever organization exists like that...in medicine we have medical boards not sure of law...will ask my dh). Don't let them take advantage of you. You shouldn't have to pay a dime! IMO.
missy - I don't plan on paying $1 of this bill. Seriously. Even if they had sent me a bill for $30 or an insignificant amount I would not pay it because I 100% did not know / realize / was made clear that ANY part of the conversation would not be complimentary.

At best it was confusion / misunderstanding, at worst, the receptionist kind of set me up or is embarrassed / afraid to say "I may not have been clear with this potential client and so we should not charge them."
 

wildcat03

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Some attorneys like to try to pull that stuff. Unless you have a signed fee agreement with them, tell them you aren't paying it. My father has been in practice 34 years and has NEVER billed anyone without a signed fee agreement.

Also, as Missy mentions, there is a supervising board. It's the bar. Feel free to report this lawyer.
 

blingbunny10

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Ugh sorry you have to deal with this! I would definitely call the lawyer you spoke to and explain the situation, and if she doesn't seem flexible I would mention not wanting to report her and her firm to appropriate authorities, including the bar. The threat will often be enough to get them to do the right thing, especially considering the relatively small sum they are hoping to collect. The billing department and receptionist you spoke to are probably clueless and don't care, so definitely reach out to the lawyer you spoke to.
 

ame

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JoCoJenn|1455875773|3992840 said:
That stinks, and I am sorry that happened. I might be inclined to ask them for a copy of the agreement you signed retaining them for legal advice for which you then would be billed.
This. You need proof with your signature on a retainer.
 

Puppmom

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I honestly don't see you being at any disadvantage here. They billed you for something you did not hire them to do. Unless there's a signed contract wherein you agreed to some hourly rate etc. then they've got no basis for billing you.

I do sympathize though because not being obligated to pay doesn't take away the feeling of being taken advantage of or shammed in some way. I would respond in writing stating you had a free consultation only, signed nothing retaining their services and that they billed you in error. I will say it's entirely possible that it is truly an error. My mom works as the Billing Manager for a law firm and she bills for what hits her desk that seems within reason. The attorney/paralegal who submitted those hours could have accidentally submitted them as billable.

Sorry, I hope all is well with your parents and this was just for planning purposes.

ETA - i agree that it's not up to you to remember everything and prove you didn't hire them. It's up to them to prove that you did. Attorneys should know better. Anyone I've ever worked with professionally or privately gets everything in writing.
 

CJ2008

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wildcat03|1455888585|3992876 said:
Some attorneys like to try to pull that stuff. Unless you have a signed fee agreement with them, tell them you aren't paying it. My father has been in practice 34 years and has NEVER billed anyone without a signed fee agreement.

Also, as Missy mentions, there is a supervising board. It's the bar. Feel free to report this lawyer.
Infuriating.

I really hope I don't have to report this lawyer because she seemed really nice.

I may change my mind about how nice she is after I speak to her, if I end up having to. I hope she can be reasonable and fair and see there has obviously been a huge confusion.

blingbunny10 said:
Ugh sorry you have to deal with this! I would definitely call the lawyer you spoke to and explain the situation, and if she doesn't seem flexible I would mention not wanting to report her and her firm to appropriate authorities, including the bar. The threat will often be enough to get them to do the right thing, especially considering the relatively small sum they are hoping to collect. The billing department and receptionist you spoke to are probably clueless and don't care, so definitely reach out to the lawyer you spoke to.
Thanks bb10 - like I say above I really hope she's not inflexible because out of the 3 lawyers I spoke with she's the one I would have considered using!

You're right that the billing dept./receptionist probably don't care and the lawyer holds the key to this.

ame said:
JoCoJenn|1455875773|3992840 said:
That stinks, and I am sorry that happened. I might be inclined to ask them for a copy of the agreement you signed retaining them for legal advice for which you then would be billed.
This. You need proof with your signature on a retainer.
I hope so ame because that would make it really easy - they have nothing like that.
 

CJ2008

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puppmom|1455890187|3992884 said:
I honestly don't see you being at any disadvantage here. They billed you for something you did not hire them to do. Unless there's a signed contract wherein you agreed to some hourly rate etc. then they've got no basis for billing you.

I do sympathize though because not being obligated to pay doesn't take away the feeling of being taken advantage of or shammed in some way. I would respond in writing stating you had a free consultation only, signed nothing retaining their services and that they billed you in error. I will say it's entirely possible that it is truly an error. My mom works as the Billing Manager for a law firm and she bills for what hits her desk that seems within reason. The attorney/paralegal who submitted those hours could have accidentally submitted them as billable.

Sorry, I hope all is well with your parents and this was just for planning purposes.

ETA - i agree that it's not up to you to remember everything and prove you didn't hire them. It's up to them to prove that you did. Attorneys should know better. Anyone I've ever worked with professionally or privately gets everything in writing.
Right puppmom - maybe I'm not TRULY at a disadvantage but it sure FEELS like I am. :blackeye:

I did treat it as such in my response to them "this must have been a huge misunderstanding within your office" type thing BUT the one thing that leads me to think it ISN'T is that the billing person said "Consistent with your communications with our office prior to the conference the portion pertaining to estate planning only was not billed as a complimentary consultation; the invoice reflects only that portion pertaining to elder law and Medicaid planning." So there has been discussion between the billing dept. and the receptionist...

(and thank you for the sentiment re: my parents. They're fine - was just trying to preplan for some things - mostly I wanted to get an idea how much a POA and other documents would cost because I knew I'd have to convince my parents we should get them done and I wanted to have solid #s...I was not successful in convincing them so it's fallen to the wayside.)
 

the_mother_thing

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CJ2008|1455884887|3992852 said:
I looked through my emails quickly and I do have the email where I ask if they offer a free consultation, to which they responded, yes, it's a 30 minute free consultation. Although she did end up giving me to a different lawyer who also deals with Medicaid issues etc. - so that's what she's going to grab onto - that the original email doesn't apply. But there is nothing in writing that says anything that I would pay for the call or any parts of the call.
Exactly. There was no agreement to pay for the advice. To have "agreement" or a "contract", there needs to be agreement on "consideration", in other words, that you agreed to pay X amount for X service (advice). It does not sound like that occurred, as they didn't stop the discussion and say "okay, this is beyond the scope of a free consultation, and before we go on, I need to inform you of the rate per hour for the remainder of this discussion" or something to that effect.

I am sure someone with more legal knowledge/experience here can agree or refute this.
 

missy

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CJ2008 said:
(and thank you for the sentiment re: my parents. They're fine - was just trying to preplan for some things - mostly I wanted to get an idea how much a POA and other documents would cost because I knew I'd have to convince my parents we should get them done and I wanted to have solid #s...I was not successful in convincing them so it's fallen to the wayside.)
CJ just had to comment on your last paragraph to let you know you are not alone. Big ditto here. I tried discussing this topic with my parents and they absolutely refused to even let me get more than a sentence out. They plan on living in their home till they die. And they refuse to listen to reason i.e. just in case they are not capable to live by themselves till the end what the options are. Would not even listen. My dad is going to be 82 (I think because the years are flying by and I am losing track) and he is frail and my mom is about 9 years younger but still it is time for a talk and they will not listen to reason.

So I feel for you and anyone else dealing with stubborn parents. I know my parents and there really is nothing I can do right now and if your parents are of a similar mindset know you have done the best you can and now you just have to let it be. It is what it is and my advice to you is try not to sweat it because you can only do what you can do. (((Hugs))).
 

CJ2008

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JoCoJenn|1455891641|3992896 said:
CJ2008|1455884887|3992852 said:
I looked through my emails quickly and I do have the email where I ask if they offer a free consultation, to which they responded, yes, it's a 30 minute free consultation. Although she did end up giving me to a different lawyer who also deals with Medicaid issues etc. - so that's what she's going to grab onto - that the original email doesn't apply. But there is nothing in writing that says anything that I would pay for the call or any parts of the call.
Exactly. There was no agreement to pay for the advice. To have "agreement" or a "contract", there needs to be agreement on "consideration", in other words, that you agreed to pay X amount for X service (advice). It does not sound like that occurred, as they didn't stop the discussion and say "okay, this is beyond the scope of a free consultation, and before we go on, I need to inform you of the rate per hour for the remainder of this discussion" or something to that effect.

I am sure someone with more legal knowledge/experience here can agree or refute this.
It didn't occur in my mind at all :/ and actually exactly what you say is what I told the receptionist - that I was looking for general information but I did have some questions and I expected that the lawyer would of course tell me if anything I asked went beyond "general" or that anything we were talking about would be beyond the scope of what can be discussed during a complimentary consultation.

So I went into the call feeling completely free of worry that anything that would be covered would be beyond what is "OK".

I wish I had listened to my instincts that the receptionist's attitude / unprofessionalism was a hint and I had never set up the call.
 

CJ2008

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missy|1455891695|3992897 said:
CJ2008 said:
(and thank you for the sentiment re: my parents. They're fine - was just trying to preplan for some things - mostly I wanted to get an idea how much a POA and other documents would cost because I knew I'd have to convince my parents we should get them done and I wanted to have solid #s...I was not successful in convincing them so it's fallen to the wayside.)
CJ just had to comment on your last paragraph to let you know you are not alone. Big ditto here. I tried discussing this topic with my parents and they absolutely refused to even let me get more than a sentence out. They plan on living in their home till they die. And they refuse to listen to reason i.e. just in case they are not capable to live by themselves till the end what the options are. Would not even listen. My dad is going to be 82 (I think because the years are flying by and I am losing track) and he is frail and my mom is about 9 years younger but still it is time for a talk and they will not listen to reason.

So I feel for you and anyone else dealing with stubborn parents. I know my parents and there really is nothing I can do right now and if your parents are of a similar mindset know you have done the best you can and now you just have to let it be. It is what it is and my advice to you is try not to sweat it because you can only do what you can do. (((Hugs))).
As soon as they hear "lawyer" my parents are pretty much closed off from there. And with their $ quickly running out it's hard to say to someone spend 2K on something we may or may not need. Not easy.

ETA and as always thank you missy (((hugs)))
 

momhappy

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CJ2008|1455888271|3992872 said:
momhappy|1455887551|3992863 said:
I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. Unfortunately, without being able to recall everything from memory, you will be at a disadvantage. If you ended up meeting with a different attorney (other than the one that gives free consultations), and you discussed topics that weren't part of a free consultation, then the bill could be accurate (not that it makes it fair). I would call and explain your confusion - maybe you can get a portion (or all if you're VERY lucky) of the bill reduced. I wish you lots of luck in dealing with it. It sucks, but I hope that it works out for you.
Thanks momhappy.

I am definitely at a disadvantage.

It was a different attorney but she never said that the one I was going to speak with doesn't offer free consultations...or that the ORIGINAL attorney was the only one who offers free consultations...

I did already call and email - but because I am at a disadvantage - and they know it, I don't expect anything other than that they will dig their heels in. And I don't expect the unprofessional receptionist to own up to the fact that yes, there definitely must have been / could have been a confusion because I in fact never agreed to go into the call where some parts/portions of I may have to be paid. :/

My best hope is to talk to the attorney again.
Yes, I agree with you that what they did sounds extremely unfair - you should be informed when and for what you'd be charged for (especially when you specifically inquired about a free consultation). Ugh. I feel for you because I hate confrontation and I'd rather avoid it if possible, but, I also don't like to be treated unfairly (so I will speak up as needed). I do hope that it works out for you - keep us posted.
 

CJ2008

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momhappy|1455898632|3992937 said:
CJ2008|1455888271|3992872 said:
momhappy|1455887551|3992863 said:
I'm sorry that you're dealing with this. Unfortunately, without being able to recall everything from memory, you will be at a disadvantage. If you ended up meeting with a different attorney (other than the one that gives free consultations), and you discussed topics that weren't part of a free consultation, then the bill could be accurate (not that it makes it fair). I would call and explain your confusion - maybe you can get a portion (or all if you're VERY lucky) of the bill reduced. I wish you lots of luck in dealing with it. It sucks, but I hope that it works out for you.
Thanks momhappy.

I am definitely at a disadvantage.

It was a different attorney but she never said that the one I was going to speak with doesn't offer free consultations...or that the ORIGINAL attorney was the only one who offers free consultations...

I did already call and email - but because I am at a disadvantage - and they know it, I don't expect anything other than that they will dig their heels in. And I don't expect the unprofessional receptionist to own up to the fact that yes, there definitely must have been / could have been a confusion because I in fact never agreed to go into the call where some parts/portions of I may have to be paid. :/

My best hope is to talk to the attorney again.
Yes, I agree with you that what they did sounds extremely unfair - you should be informed when and for what you'd be charged for (especially when you specifically inquired about a free consultation). Ugh. I feel for you because I hate confrontation and I'd rather avoid it if possible, but, I also don't like to be treated unfairly (so I will speak up as needed). I do hope that it works out for you - keep us posted.
I hate confrontation too and generally avoid it too but for some things I'll take a deep breath and deal with it even though I don't look forward to it. Trust me I don't look forward to the receptionist saying "I'm sorry Miss CJ but I did tell you blah blah" and skew it so it sounds - to an outsider - that she was perfectly clear and that *I* was perfectly clear. Going beyond this, it's moments like this when a feeling washes over me and I can immediately understand how an innocent person can appear guilty based on words and actions taken out of context etc. Scary.

So thank you for your sympathy on this because yeah it will suck.

I will definitely keep you guys updated.
 

azstonie

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I am sorry you're dealing with this stress, ridiculous. No agreement on fees and billing, no $ from you.

You did nothing wrong. They are.

Every state has a Bar Association, call yours or email them about this.
 

CJ2008

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azstonie|1455907989|3992983 said:
I am sorry you're dealing with this stress, ridiculous. No agreement on fees and billing, no $ from you.

You did nothing wrong. They are.

Every state has a Bar Association, call yours or email them about this.
thanks azsonie - when I hear back from them I'll be more clear on the next step (and everything you mention might have to happen for sure. That is not the right way to run a business. My mind immediately jumps to the elderly - my goodness - what if my mother had called? She might feel obligated to pay it.)

Hopefully their response will be "sorry about that."
 

Rockinruby

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CJ, I'm so sorry this happened especially when you were trying to be proactive for your family members. :wall: It's extremely frustrating!

I don't know if this will help, but each state usually has a (attorney) fee arbitration board. I'm not sure where you are, but a quick online search should help you find the necessary form for your state. First call or email the attorney/office (I think you have done this already) and hopefully they will chalk it up to miscommunication. If they don't drop it then write a formal letter stating you were not aware, were not informed, etc. In the meantime check to see how quickly you have to submit the form for fee arbitration. (Most states 20-30 days). The arbitration board websites usually have a good deal of info. :read: Some states handle disputes of this nature so check to see what is available to you.

Also, I think the free consult vs charging is a pretty hot topic for some attorneys. It needs to be very clear what the consult covers, but when you get into specific questions they want to charge. I can certainly understand billing for their time. However, from what you've described it doesn't seem as if they did due diligence. They should have let you know that they were starting to get into areas that they bill for. It really stinks! :angryfire:

Hugs! :wavey:
 

azstonie

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CJ, most counties have common legal docs such as POAs that may be downloaded, signed and then notarized. Free except notary fee, if any.

Eldercare lawyers are useful for *elderly* people experiencing discrimination or criminal acts.

In your situation, as I understand it, you want a consultation with a geriatric social worker, who can make the path for you and your parents best as can be. They are truly worth every cent of the consultation fee, will save you money, and prevent regrettable mistakes and lost time. Your folks' doc should be able to refer you or Google geriatric social worker and your county or city. Help with everything from finances, medical issues, rehab/therapy, social life, etc etc.
 

rainwood

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I am a lawyer, and here's my advice to you (free of charge). Because they wrote to you, write a letter back with a cc to the specific lawyer, and keep a copy for your records. Don't just call because then there's no paper trail explaining your side of the situation. Just explain your belief that the entire phone call was a free consultation, and that if at any point the conversation was considered by them to be billable time, you thought they would have told you that so you could make the decision to continue or not continue the conversation, and that's when a fee agreement would have been sent for your signature. Because they didn't do that, you didn't have the opportunity to decide. Be calm, professional and reasonable in your response. It may have been a miscommunication within their office for all you know so give them the opportunity to fix it. You don't need to threaten to go to the state bar association at this point or lose your temper with them. Just explain your viewpont and see what they do. I'd be surprised if they take it any further, but if they do that's when it would be appropriate to consider contacting the local bar association.

I understand the frustration of trying to get parents to put appropriate arrangements in place, such as a will, POA's, advance health care directives, etc. You can't force them to do it if they don't want to. I had little success with that. What did work for me was I had a casual conversation (and I mean casual) with my mom and her husband (really just him because my mom had Alzheimer's which is why I was worried in the first place) talking about what my husband and I did, why we did it (my husband was sick and we knew of situations with friends or their parents where things went poorly because of a lack of planning), and how much better we felt for having taken care of it. I emphasized that we did it because we wanted to control what happened. Then I never said another word about it. I found out later that about 2 weeks after that conversation, my mom's husband who was the most stubborn man on the planet and had accused me more than once of trying to control their lives, went to the lawyer and did all the stuff that I'd described us doing. He died about 6 months later and that's when I found out. I was so grateful he listened and did something about it, and I was so glad I decided to go at the issue sideways. People don't like being told what to do, but especially not parents being told what to do by their kids. Getting old is hard enough.

I hope this helps.
 

CJ2008

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Rockinruby said:
CJ, I'm so sorry this happened especially when you were trying to be proactive for your family members. :wall: It's extremely frustrating!

I don't know if this will help, but each state usually has a (attorney) fee arbitration board. I'm not sure where you are, but a quick online search should help you find the necessary form for your state. First call or email the attorney/office (I think you have done this already) and hopefully they will chalk it up to miscommunication. If they don't drop it then write a formal letter stating you were not aware, were not informed, etc. In the meantime check to see how quickly you have to submit the form for fee arbitration. (Most states 20-30 days). The arbitration board websites usually have a good deal of info. :read: Some states handle disputes of this nature so check to see what is available to you.

Also, I think the free consult vs charging is a pretty hot topic for some attorneys. It needs to be very clear what the consult covers, but when you get into specific questions they want to charge. I can certainly understand billing for their time. However, from what you've described it doesn't seem as if they did due diligence. They should have let you know that they were starting to get into areas that they bill for. It really stinks! :angryfire:

Hugs! :wavey:
Hi RR :wavey:

Yes I've called them and emailed them a couple of days ago - no response yet.

I will definitely look into how quickly I need to submit that form in case I end up needing to go that route so I have it ready in my calendar.

I agree the free consult versus charging for a consult is a hot topic (probably for any type of "consultant" really). The person *MOST* clear on what's too specific is the lawyer / consultant - and then it's very easy (and 100% fair and proper) to say "that's actually something I can't answer without charging you a formal consultation fee." At no point during the conversation did the attorney say anything even remotely close to that or talk about fees at all - except towards the end of the conversation when I asked what their fee would be if my parents agreed to move forward - both to draft documents and then for advice on specific matters.
 

CJ2008

Ideal_Rock
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azstonie said:
CJ, most counties have common legal docs such as POAs that may be downloaded, signed and then notarized. Free except notary fee, if any.

Eldercare lawyers are useful for *elderly* people experiencing discrimination or criminal acts.

In your situation, as I understand it, you want a consultation with a geriatric social worker, who can make the path for you and your parents best as can be. They are truly worth every cent of the consultation fee, will save you money, and prevent regrettable mistakes and lost time. Your folks' doc should be able to refer you or Google geriatric social worker and your county or city. Help with everything from finances, medical issues, rehab/therapy, social life, etc etc.
Yes I looked into that kristie but I've read that many times they end up being worthless / not able to be used.

You've recommended a geriatric social worker before I'm pretty sure in different threads and I *did* look into it as far as what's out there but I'm so used to thinking "lawyer" I did nothing further with it. I will follow up on that. It really sounds like it could be someone that could help me/us navigate EVERYTHING as a whole rather than just individual pieces.

Thanks for the recommendation.

rainwood said:
I am a lawyer, and here's my advice to you (free of charge). Because they wrote to you, write a letter back with a cc to the specific lawyer, and keep a copy for your records. Don't just call because then there's no paper trail explaining your side of the situation. Just explain your belief that the entire phone call was a free consultation, and that if at any point the conversation was considered by them to be billable time, you thought they would have told you that so you could make the decision to continue or not continue the conversation, and that's when a fee agreement would have been sent for your signature. Because they didn't do that, you didn't have the opportunity to decide. Be calm, professional and reasonable in your response. It may have been a miscommunication within their office for all you know so give them the opportunity to fix it. You don't need to threaten to go to the state bar association at this point or lose your temper with them. Just explain your viewpont and see what they do. I'd be surprised if they take it any further, but if they do that's when it would be appropriate to consider contacting the local bar association.

I understand the frustration of trying to get parents to put appropriate arrangements in place, such as a will, POA's, advance health care directives, etc. You can't force them to do it if they don't want to. I had little success with that. What did work for me was I had a casual conversation (and I mean casual) with my mom and her husband (really just him because my mom had Alzheimer's which is why I was worried in the first place) talking about what my husband and I did, why we did it (my husband was sick and we knew of situations with friends or their parents where things went poorly because of a lack of planning), and how much better we felt for having taken care of it. I emphasized that we did it because we wanted to control what happened. Then I never said another word about it. I found out later that about 2 weeks after that conversation, my mom's husband who was the most stubborn man on the planet and had accused me more than once of trying to control their lives, went to the lawyer and did all the stuff that I'd described us doing. He died about 6 months later and that's when I found out. I was so grateful he listened and did something about it, and I was so glad I decided to go at the issue sideways. People don't like being told what to do, but especially not parents being told what to do by their kids. Getting old is hard enough.

I hope this helps.
rainwood I better not get an invoice for this! :lol:

Thank you so much for your professional advice and the wording - you described *exactly* what it is that happened and what my side of this is. I definitely think it's a possibility the lawyer is not aware that an invoice was sent out. Being that I already sent an email in response to the person who sent the invoice saying that it was supposed to be a complimentary conversation - should I wait for their response or write another email and cc the lawyer?

It is such a fine line between offering help and feeling like you're telling them what to do. I try to be really aware of their reactions and scale back the minute I feel resistance. But it is tough. Sometimes I need to mentally prepare for like a solid week before I bring up certain topics because it's so easy to react if I don't.

So glad to hear that you actually got through to your mom's husband.

Thanks rainwood.
 

rainwood

Brilliant_Rock
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You could do a quick follow-up e-mail, explaining the situation from your viewpoint, and cc the lawyer. Say exactly what you want to have happen which is for them to write off the invoice. Again, be polite and reasonable, and I doubt this will go any further.

Good luck!
 

Jambalaya

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Cj, I'm sorry that you have to deal with this bill. How very annoying.

Are your parents very elderly and/or sick?
 

CJ2008

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rainwood|1455998978|3993395 said:
You could do a quick follow-up e-mail, explaining the situation from your viewpoint, and cc the lawyer. Say exactly what you want to have happen which is for them to write off the invoice. Again, be polite and reasonable, and I doubt this will go any further.

Good luck!
Thanks rainwood I'll do that.

Jambalaya said:
Cj, I'm sorry that you have to deal with this bill. How very annoying.

Are your parents very elderly and/or sick?
Yes - so very annoying.

I don't know what's considered very elderly but late 70s and no, fairly good health.
 
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