How Much Should I Pay My Durable Power of Attorney Agent?
I’m planning to appoint an estate lawyer as my durable power of attorney for finances, since I don’t have a relative or friend who could fill the position. I’d like some information on how such a professional agent would be paid, and what the charges are roughly likely to be. I assume no payment is necessary until the agent actually begins carrying out his duties. Are the payment arrangements something that should be spelled out in the power of attorney document?
You’re facing a challenge in common with more and more people as fewer Americans get married and have children and more get divorced. While in 1960 72% of American adults were married and 5% were divorced or separated, by 2010 the numbers were 51% and 14%, respectively. Some people have begun calling seniors without family members to step in when needed “elder orphans.” Engaging an attorney to assist on financial matters can be a good solution. It’s harder to find someone to assist on personal and health care decision making because most attorneys feel uncomfortable taking on these more personal functions.
Generally when lawyers act as agents under durable powers of attorney, they charge their normal hourly rates for this service. Depending on the attorney and the size of the law office, the attorney may have bookkeepers or other paraprofessionals such as paralegals to carry out much of the work at their lower hourly rates. As you suggest, they normally don’t charge until and unless they have to step in. You should discuss with the attorney how this would work and enter into a fee agreement accordingly. That would be separate from the durable power of attorney document itself.
One last thing: Make sure you include an alternate in your durable power of attorney in case the attorney you are engaging is unavailable to serve when the time comes for whatever reason.