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Three months ago, my uncle had a stroke and had no living will or anyone with durable power of attorney to act on his behalf. He is currently in a nursing home that took him from the hospital without anyone's permission and now they are trying to go after his assets ( even though he has medicaid and medicare that pays for the home currently). To complicate matters, he has a brother who is mentally retarded and has been living with my wife and I for the past three months. My uncle has a will that leaves everything to my wife and I, but this is not our primary concern. My wife and I wanted to use his estate to care and set up a trust for his mentally retarded brother who is 64 years old. My wife and I have literally laid out $12,000.00 over the past three months to pay my uncles mortgage, property taxes, etc. The problem is we cannot access his funds or sell his house without his permission. My wife and I have been caring for both uncles for the past 16 years and no one seems to care. We cannot lay out another dime as this has created a huge financial burden for us. We met with an Elder Care attorney who wanted to petition the court to give us legal guardianship of my uncle so that we would be able to settle his affairs. But, the retainer given us asked for a $10,000.00 retainer up front and 30% of his settled estate. We thought this a very excessive burden for us after having paid out so much already (all documented). They also wanted to hold us personally liable for all legal expenses and fees should the court not grant the request for legal guardianship. As to my uncle's estate, my wife and I only care about it going to care for his brother and for monies that we paid to keep his home from going into foreclosure and his estate intact. At this point we are mentally and physically exhausted and need help. My wife and I have our own family and this is really creating a strain. Is someone out there who can help us? We are deeply appreciative of any advice or help. We have always helped others, even to our financial detriment, and we now need help ourselves. Please help us!
I can't speak to the reasonableness of the fee the attorney you contacted wants to charge. It's probably "market rate." You may find someone willing to work for less, or you could try to find someone who will work on a straight fee basis (not a 30% contingent fee). A lot depends on the size of your uncle's estate and how well you are able to control the costs of the attorney you eventually do hire (set a billing cap). Unless you're prepared to abandon both of your uncles to the vagueries of the system, you're going to need an attorney, and sooner rather than later, because the home holding your uncle isn't going to slow down in its attempts to grab his estate
Get in touch with the New York Council on the Aging: New York State Office for the Aging - Toolkit For Caregivers. Click on the "Where to Get Help" tab on the left side of the page.
And on behalf of both of your uncles, thanks for caring and for all you've done.
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