Attorney Suspended for Charging Excessive Fees for Long-Term Care Planning

Kansas's highest court suspends for six months an attorney who, among other things, charged a couple three times the going rate to qualify for VA and Medicaid benefits. In the Matter of Crandall (Kan., No. 117,910, Nov. 30, 2018).

A couple hired David Crandall to update their estate plan and assist with long-term care planning. The couple had $472,479 in assets, and Mr. Crandall created two trusts, including a revocable trust that was 130 pages long, designed to make the couple immediately eligible for VA benefits and eventually eligible for Medicaid benefits. Mr. Crandall charged $31,026, which included three years of ongoing counseling.

The Board for Discipline of Attorneys held a hearing on Mr. Crandall's representation of the couple and also on his representation of a personal representative in a probate case. The board determined that Mr. Crandall violated six rules of professional conduct, including rules regarding unreasonable fees, communication, and competence. The board recommended a six-month suspension. Mr. Crandall argued that his fee was reasonable, and that he computed the value of his services based on how much a nursing home would have cost.

The Kansas Supreme Court suspends Mr. Crandall for six months. According to the court, the representation of the couple was straightforward and did not justify the fees Mr. Crandall charged, which were three times the going rate in the community. The court notes that the value of Mr. Crandall's future services was questionable because the "services he does provide without charge include many of the usual and customary services most attorneys in the area offer for free after execution of similar estate plans."

For the full text of this decision, go to: http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/Opinions/SupCt/2018/20181130/117910.pdf

For an blog post by Arizona elder law attorney Robert Fleming about the case, click here.

To watch the court hearing, click here.

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