power of attorney

I am 65 years old and live in an apartment. I get disability and a small pension. I own a car and my furniture. I have very little savings.
I have an appointment to see a lawyer about the power of attorney and a will.
I have no idea how much this should cost. Can anyone give me a ballpark figure of the cost of this. I have no idea what is a fair price and what is outrageous.
Although, saying Lawyer and fair price in the same sentence is somehow disconcerting.

IANAL but I think the first question would be how complicated will it be after you die. Will you have three kids fighting over grandma’s ring? Is your insurance beneficiery your wife who died 5 years ago? Is there someone to act as the executor/rix of your estate that can do the job*, etc. My understanding is that unless you are in Louisiana** or your situation is complicated you could actually do the job yourself.

  • Mrs Cad and I had this discussion last night. She though she may want her eldest to be the executor. I said are you kidding?! He won’t know he has to go to the courthouse, he doesn’t know wherethe courthouse his and he probably couldn’t find the address of the courthouse online without help.
    ** I know that is an ancient way of thinking so may not be correct anymore.

Well, step one is asking the lawyer before he/she does the work. Many lawyers assume they have a blank check when you ask them to do something if you don’t put limits on it.

I don’t practice in that area, and there is probably some geographic variation, but very rough ballpark guess would be $1,000 to $2,000 if there’s nothing unusual about your situation. I figured $300 per hour (generous) and 3 to 4 hours (also generous).

And I just want to add, if you decide to do it yourself, you would still want to pay for an hour with an attorney to double check everything.

Lawyers who specialize in wills and estates usually charge a flat fee for straightforward cases (which it sounds like yours is.) I recommend getting some referrals from your state bar association and simply calling them up and asking how much they charge.

Just remember, you can’t be your own executor.


What will happen if the OP doesn’t make a will?

What is the point of someone in his position, of a “power of attorney” and who would that be?

How amenable is your situation going to be to standardized forms? Your state bar association and/or dept of aging may have downloadable forms available. (For example, the Kansas Bar Association durable power of attorney, general and for health care). See what your state offers and how it fits for your situation.

You don’t mention where you are located, but you might also check with legal services groups. Here, for example, Kansas Legal Services has an elder law hotline, offering free and low-cost services to qualifying seniors.

Power of attorney would give someone (a child, perhaps, or a friend) the legal authority to act if the OP is still alive but unable to handle their own affairs, such as pay bills. Perhaps more importantly, the OP needs a power of attorney for health care, appointing someone to make medical decisions if the OP is unable to make those decision for him/herself (for example, being evaluated for a nursing home).

If the OP doesn’t have a will, whatever estate is left (the car and the furniture, if nothing else) will be distributed according to state law. Usually, that gives a list of relatives in order (such as spouse first, if any, then child[ren], then parents, then siblings, etc.); if nobody survives, it goes to the state. If there is only one possible heir anyway, a will might not be necessary and a transfer-on-death designation on the car title may be sufficient; if, however, there are multiple possible heirs, or no heir, a will can make things easier later for whoever has to settle the estate. (Who’s paying for the funeral, e.g., and in charge of making sure it happens? Who cleans out the apartment?)

Then their assets will be distributed according to the intestate estate procedures in their state, meaning they will be divided among surviving relatives according to some statutory formula. (This may not be what the OP wants.)

I assume the OP wants to set up a medical power of attorney, so a specific person will be responsible for making any medical decisions if the OP is no longer able. Setting up a POA to handle routine financial transactions may also be advisable if one were to become disabled or mentally incompetent (e.g. Alzheimers, stroke, etc.)

In New York, at least, setting up a Power of Attorney is simply a matter of filling out a form and getting it notarized.

It becomes complicated if there isn’t someone available to take over.

Thanks for all your help.
I should have added that I live in PA and have only one kid, who will get everything ( not that there is that much to give)
I am mostly concerned about the medical side of things. I don’t want to be kept alive (?) by machines.
I will have to see if my state will accept the forms that I can do myself while I am still of sound mind (?)

Power of Attorney

Worst super power ever.

What you are looking for here is an Advance Health Care Directive. Most if not all states have them. You might be able to do-it-yourself. You might find forms on-line you can download – it might differ from one state to another. You should:
[list=a][li] Read up on AHCD’s on-line. Google it, and you’ll find plenty.[/li][li] Study the rules specifically for your state. You can find this on-line too probably.[/li][li] For more direct help, ask at any senior center near you, or at any hospital. They will all know all about it, or can direct you to more specific sources.[/list][/li]
ETA: Once you have the paperwork written, make two additional copies:
– Keep one copy for yourself.
– Give one copy to someone you trust.
– File one copy with your doctor or hospital.

Be sure, at least, that someone knows that you have an AHCD, and where it is. One common trick: Many people hang a copy on the front of their refrigerator, in the hope that any emergency first-responder workers will find it. Then, whatever hospital they take you to, one might hope they will take the AHCD along with you.

I am in PA also. I got a booklet from my doctor that included everything I needed for Advanced Health Care stuff. I filled out some forms and made copies. My doctor has one copy on file, my attorney has a copy, and my gf has one. I’ve also made my kids aware of my wishes.

Ask your MD.

ETA: I didn’t even have to ask. I was in for a yearly exam and a nurse gave it to me.

When my stepmother was determined to be incompetent (and incontinent) you’d be amazed how complex it was to simply sell the house in New Jersey when my father also went into a home. Once she was declared unfit it was too late for a power of attorney. There were all sorts of legal hurdles to ensure nobody was being taken advantage of. But yes, it’s pretty straightforward IIRC - for my father, for example, he just signed a form (which was witnessed) and my nephew took it to a lawyer or notary.