I have heard that I don’t need a lawyer, and all I need to do is answer some simple questions online. Is this true?
No. This area of law is complex — I spend many hours making complicated concepts simple. Most people think that all lawyers do is use forms and put names in them. Of course we use forms — there are thousands of possible forms to use, and it is important to know which form to use and why. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Why You Can’t Trust DIY Forms
I have reviewed several do-it-yourself forms, and they all suffer from the same problem: they are designed for the perfect family, one where the mom and dad are still married to each other, and the kids are perfect. Most people do not have the perfect family, and divorce is common, which makes these forms useless.
Why You Need an Experienced Attorney
As more people live longer, there will be more people suffering from strokes, Parkinson’s, dementia, or Alzheimer’s. The need is great for people who understand and are able to take care of the unique needs of Baby Boomers as they age. People need an attorney who knows how to plan for families who are not perfect. Attorneys who understand that most people who reach their 65th birthday still feel young, and are anticipating living until they are 90. Most people, like me, have at least one parent who has reached their 90th birthday.
Each time someone comes into my office and does not retain me, I feel as though I have let them down. If you do nothing – or worse, do it wrong – you won’t know until it is too late. If you do nothing, the law will take over, and the law can have unintended consequences.
If you used one of those do-it-yourself forms, perhaps you are like many who have been in my office — you thought these forms were cheaper than a lawyer. However, documents such as wills and trusts are confusing, and you could fill out the forms wrong.
For many, words like executor, administrator, trustee, living will, living trust, probate, and conservator all sound the same, but they mean different things. Worse yet, the forms cannot guide you, and if you are trying to fit your family with his kids, her kids, and our kids into a form designed for the nuclear family, then those forms won’t work without a lot of adaptations.
If you or a loved one has dementia, a disability, or a drug or alcohol problem, you need help. The laws related to planning for Medi-Cal and veterans’ benefits, are so complicated that most estate planning attorneys don’t even want to learn them. What works for Medi-Cal does not work for Veteran’s benefits, and vice versa.
If you know both sets of rules, it is possible to protect your assets and also qualify for benefits. It is impossible to detail all of the problems that can be created if someone tries to protect their assets and qualify for these important benefits without contacting someone like Martha Jo Patterson, who spends hundreds of hours studying the laws and rules and has helped hundreds of families, but rest assured that proceeding without the right information, advice, and support can lead to many negative consequences.
If your family is not perfect, you need a lawyer to guide you through all the decisions you need to make. If you are a Baby Boomer, you need to plan. You will most likely live longer than your parents, and you will most likely need help with daily care. Your family will most likely be more fragmented than the one you grew up in, so it will be harder for your kids to take care of you than it is for you to take care of your parents. If you have concerns, call Geisler Patterson Law. Martha Jo Patterson will be your trusted guide in making all the plans you need to have peace of mind in the second half of life.
How do you calculate your fees?
We have developed package pricing for our services to help our clients find peace of mind.
We do not bill by the hour, unless it is a matter that involves court proceedings.
We do not bill for phone calls, faxes, filing fees, or other miscellaneous charges.
We will quote you a fee based upon our formula, which takes into account the complexity of your case and the value that we are able to provide to you in asset protection.
Our fee is payable at the beginning of our relationship, and will cover all expenses of our representation. If you have a very simple case, and we are unable to provide you with a substantial benefit, our fee is very low.
However, in the event that we are able to provide you with substantial benefits, we will undertake a more sophisticated asset protection strategy, and our fee will reflect that greater value being provided.
Geisler Patterson Law wishes we could publish our fees, but the fee you are charged is based on your needs, and therefore there is no set amount we can advertise. In order to make sure that everyone is treated fairly, we do use a system where you are asked questions to determine what you need in your plan, and the fees are based upon your answers.
From our first phone call, how long will it take you to tell us if you are able to help us?
This really is one of my favorite questions. We have designed our systems with you in mind, so that we can give you a rapid response and let you know whether it will be worth your time to make an appointment to see us. We know that you may be experiencing anxiety, stress, fear, guilt, and uncertainty, and we want to make sure that seeking help from Geisler Patterson Law is as hassle-free as possible.
When you contact us, someone (often the attorney) will take a few minutes to determine if we can help you. Once it is determined that we can help you, your appointment is scheduled. If we can’t help you, we will try to help you find someone who will be able to assist you.
Why do I need an attorney?
It is tempting to do your own will or trust. No one likes spending money on attorneys, and the ads from the do-it-yourself people make it seem so easy.
It is easy if you don’t own your home, you have only a small amount of savings, you have only been married once and all your and your spouse’s children belong to that marriage, and no one in the family has a disability or dementia.
However, if your family is not perfect, you own a home, and you have some assets, you need help. If you do it yourself, you may never know you filled the forms out wrong, but your family will. Fixing errors requires going to court, and court is always expensive.