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I'm starting to think the attorney who updated my parent's trust isn't the right person to work with when it comes to elder law and Medi-Cal, (I live in California). I met with the attorney 2 weeks ago and I had questions. He was going to check in with a Medi-Cal consultant he uses and there was no mention of how long and how much my questions would cost to answer. I still have no idea what this work will cost, shouldn't I?



I'm thinking new after 2 weeks and hearing nothing It's time to find a good attorney who can get me the info I need. I'm pretty resourceful, however, it shouldn't be so bloody hard to find what is and isn't allowed, even in a caregiver group I'm in, everyone keeps saying to consult with an attorney as if no one else has ever asked this question I find so normal, why wouldn't others have asked this? Can a Trustee who is also a beneficiary also receive reasonable compensation for any other work performed that helped the original trust settlor in some way? This is not enrichment, this is being compensated a reasonable amount as anyone going above and beyond the responsibility of Trustee should be compensated fairly for their time and no one should be "Required" to pay others for these efforts that could cost even more and take longer to complete.



Alvadear, you don't need to reply, thank you.

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Imo If your parents Trust was designed to be outside of Medicaid for assets ownership, the attys job is done. It’s now all about Trust management. Unless atty has also been hired to shepherd a LTC Medicaid application. If that is not in his contract or mentioned in emails or in correspondence that you have, that’s a whole new retainer needed. So what it it?

On you’re getting paid for doing things for assets of the Trust. Normally it’s 1%- 2% of annual Trust asset valuation that is paid to a Trustee for management of assets. If the set amount isn’t to your liking, then resign as Trustee OR find a way to be paid as a vendor providing a taxable / billable service to the Trust. Like you have “Hot n Happy Homework’s LLC”, that does property maintenance / management as it’s business and the biz sends out invoice to the Trust for its services. A legit biz with state registration and tax filings and has other clients that you do the same type of work for.

As an aside on this, I’ve been an Executor x3 and a CoTrustee once, inevitably you flat just do things without any consideration of being paid or compensated for. It’s something you do under a sense of familial duty & responsibility and do things without expecting to get repaid for your time. If your not ok on this, then resign; there may be a cousin, a niece or nephew that will be glad to do on line notifications, disconnecting stuff, doing estate sale, etc.

On the utilities/ WiFi / cable still on at the now vacant house, the vendors will shut it off. Problem solved. Although will be final bill.
But realistically how hard & time consuming it is for you to do this???
As a Trustee you should already have the details on the account the beneficiary has in her name/Trusts name &/ or tied to an asset of the Trust. You go online to cancel service and request a final bill. Unhooking cable stuff maybe 15 min…. Ask when online for a label to ship the box back (perhaps she kept the box, mine did and it was easy peasy as it had the label ready to go into the box) or for a service address in your city for drop off and then maybe another 30 min to drop it off in person. On the clearing out her home of stuff, there r companies who do this…. take a few photos of interiors, email 2-3 estate sale companies, pick one and let them deal with it & the sale $ is their payment unless it’s goes over a preset $ amount.

btw Alva has direct Trustee experience for a California Trust, why wouldn’t you want her insight from her experience???
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AlvaDeer Apr 5, 2022
Thanks, Igloo. I think people really fail to have any understanding of what "managing the assets of a Trust" entail. My first year was agony, and the end was no fun when executor. Between the two it calmed a bit.
But Trust management is just EVERYTHING. Even down to cutting the grass. You can pay someone to do it and pay a lot, or you can do it yourself, but whether a leak in the roof or the growing grass, yup it is all ours. I think people think "that isn't my job". But the truth is it is ALL YOUR JOB, just as it would be all Mom's job if she were able and managing her own home, roof repairs, grass cutting, hiring a realtor--just everything.
I did tell the OP that she had my sympathy, because I have done it. I did it free; I was the only survivor and the sole beneficiary, so why would I not have? But there are other siblings here I think. Under the Fiduciary Duties of a Trustee in California law it is so specific it says that you cannot even hire out people when it is "reasonable" for you to do it yourself. That's like rule number four or five and can be found online easily enough. And at best you get the 1% to 2% designated in the trust. We don't have to "like it" but that's the rules.
Always appreciate your advice on Forum, Igloo. I am quite expendable; you're not.
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Barb, I read some of the answers on the Boglehead thread you quoted, and skimmed others.   Many are right on point.   You chose well!
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Here is a relevant thread.

https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=4784230&hilit=Poa+compensation#p4784230
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Pulling this back into the mainstream of posts, b/c it's appropriate in addressing your goal:

"seeking legal president which would allow a trustee reasonable compensation when performing additional tasks "

If you're interested in legal precedents, you need to know how to research law, or find someone who does.    And you need to understand how to understand statutes and how to read case law.    That means an attorney, and only an attorney.  

As to how to find a good, reliable, etc. attorney, I always look to the bar association lists to identify someone in the specific practice area, and sometimes the ABA ranked top attorneys.     Most firms with which I'm experienced do have top ranked attorneys, and that's included in their firm website.   

And I always look for someone in a multi-practice firm; complimentary practices can assist in complex issues.    You might also review firm websites for outreach activities.  Some of the firms for which I worked held seminars for their clients (not like the single attorney "seminar" which is really a method of identifying potential clients), on the various aspects and interactions of practice areas of their firms.

Years ago, this caliber of attorney also worked with the State Bar to provide lectures.  I attended several of these and learned a lot; they were really helpful.  I still have the manuals from those seminars, somewhere in my "library".   They're definitely worth it.
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freqflyer Apr 4, 2022
I agree with GardenArtist, I also had gone to a multi-practice firm. My Elder Law attorney was one of 8 Elder Law attorneys on staff. The firm also has attorneys who only specialized in real estate and law use law; attorneys who only do Tax Law; and a dozen of other specialty law.

My Elder Law attorney keeps us up-to-date on changes to State Law if there would be a change in any of our legal documents.

I found the Attorney via AgingCare, go to the blue/green bar at the top of the page and click on CARE TOPICS.... go to the section on Elder Law .... scroll down a bit until you see an area where you enter your city name. The site will give you a list of attorneys.
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The attorney group who did our wills and other EOL docs referred us to a CELA attorney. I found another through my financial message board, also CELA. I then called an attorney friend who asked her lawyer discussion group and both firms checked out.

Have you called the first attorney back and asked when s/he will get back to you?

https://info.legalzoom.com/article/what-is-reasonable-trustee-compensation

How much you are allowed to be compensated may depend upon state law.
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Isthisrealyreal Apr 4, 2022
Barb, I think it also entails gnarley doing tasks that do not fall under Trustee duties or POA duties.

Like paperwork for aid and attendance.

They don't want to pay someone else hundreds hourly but, can't continue without compensation for themselves. Trying to preserve mom's money without going bankrupt themselves.

Can you ask that question of your financial forum?
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Gnarley, our trust allows the trustee to get 1.5% of the trust value annually for performing trustee duties. It also allows for the trustee to compensate any fiduciary the going rate for whatever they are doing.

FYI, our secondary trustee is a CELA. He made it very clear that the 1.5% was based on the size of the estate. If it devalues that rate could go up.

Yes, you should be able to expect a competent certified elder law attorney to know this information without costly research

www.nelf.org is where we found a CELA near us.

Any yahoo can say they do elder law, doesn't make them qualified, so spend the time to find a CELA. They have specialized in getting certified to do elder law.
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Gnarley Apr 4, 2022
I understand about the trustee compensation, that isn't what I've asked.

Mom needs help and this or that, a trustee cannot arbitrarily pay themselves for nothing, that's enrichment, right? I'm also doing other things and believe I should be reasonably compensated for those additional efforts as does my mom since they do not fall under the Trustee guidelines. Do you understand?
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https://www.naela.org

Or

https://nelf.org/search/custom.asp?id=5427
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