The firm of Bradley Vauter & Associates, P.C. is a small firm with years of experience. We are here to help you. We are a private firm with a public spirit (all the attorneys met while helping in a paid or volunteer basis at a non-profit legal services organization). While most work here is carried out by Brad Vauter, the firm does make use of part time attorneys and “of-counsel” relationships, when and as needed. The attorney team here is a team that can provide the peace of mind you seek when you turn matters over to an attorney.
We value your business and we treat you fairly. We’d like to think we could help you, and provide some peace of mind as you wade through the legal thickets. Let us be your guide–whether creating a plan meeting your needs, or via litigation or administrative appearances to defend your interests or make your claims.
Our Main Areas of Practice
This means we often help with estates and trusts, wills, financial and durable powers of attorney, designation of patient advocate arrangements, and Medicare and Medicaid advocacy or planning and probate administration. We can intervene and try to help if elder abuse or exploitation is suspected.
We also help those worried about long term care planning, or paying for nursing homes or other care, and special needs trusts and government benefits. If you are concerned about guardianship or need a conservator we can help, just as we can help with care issues and concerns at nursing homes and other facilities.
We also help set up and counsel non-profit organization, take care of application for tax exempt status with the IRS, and provide legal audits for non-profits and small businesses. We work with small businesses on contract and other issues.
We support and help and advise and represent people with real estate issues, deeds, and property and landlord tenant matters, including evictions.
We also work and try to help seek out solutions for those who are gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered, or those who have HIV/AIDS. Even with the law as it stands, uncertain and sometimes unhelpful, there are many things members of the LGBT community can do in a proactive way to protect themselves, and there are some laws that still apply should they face discrimination. We understand and help.
For families who need to advocate for a child with disabilities, we work in the field of special education, transitions, special needs trusts and advocacy, empowering families and helping assure that the letter and spirit of the law surrounding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act are honored.
We also work with organizations who need speakers or trainers. We have given hundreds of presentations and trainings over the years. Some presentations are as short as half an hour, other presentations and trainings might be a day or two long. Our presentations can be tailored to lay or professional audiences. If you need a speaker or trainer, feel free to contact us!
How The Place for Good Counsel℠ Can Help
First and foremost we can help all clients with a thoughtful consultation. In a consultation we ask you a lot of questions, to get a good grounding of your situation and concern, and you pepper us with questions. Then we discuss options or ideas for moving forward.
It seems almost too simple, to have a consultation with an attorney. But we take it seriously and so should you. Far too many people don’t get legal advice when they need it, and sometimes, sadly, they pay a big price for delay or neglect–or reliance on non-attorney advisors.
During a consultation or initial meeting, we might even do quick research on the spot, answer your questions, direct you to other outside resources, and set up a possible plan of action.
Unlike some firms that offer “free consultations” we do not. However if you set up an appointment to meet with us, the first hour of a meeting can be charged at half our normal hourly rate. Most consultations are only about an hour and if you engage us for work, that time is applied towards our fees. The Place for Good Counsel is here so you can get trusted and helpful information and ideas you need to move forward with your legal concerns and issues. We also provide legal checkups for individuals, often at a flat rate.
You are not obligated to hire us for anything further, and we are not obligated to represent you further, unless we both agree, and make arrangements to set out the attorney client relationship.
Of course, as in most law firms, we can do much more than a consultation. We can appear in court, and at administrative hearings to protect your interests and represent you. We can draft documents to help achieve your goals, and we can negotiate or mediate or arbitrate issues too. We can advise you on a course of action, counsel you, and help you develop a strategy. We do much work on an hourly basis, but we also do some work on a flat fee basis.
Why You Can Count On Us
We are square with folks. There will be times when we doubt we can help, and we will tell you so. There are other times when we can help, but we might only have a 50-50 or an 80 per cent chance of winning your case or getting a good result in your matter—and we will tell you that too. You decide whether or not to go forward. We think a legal checkup or even a consultation has value, and we sometimes offer such things, for quite distant clients, via Skype or similar arrangements.
We also bring many years of experience to bear when we address your concerns, and we try hard to look at the whole person, not just the “legalities” of the matter. Because of this broad or holistic approach, we might suggest that others pitch in or help, particularly in the elder care and elder law area and in the non-profit arena. We are quick to suggest others when we don’t have the expertise – and thus won’t be shy about referring you to public or non-profit resources, or social workers, or care managers, a long-term care ombudsman, an accountant, or so on.
Even though we are quick to suggest you make use of other professionals, if warranted, we are not unwilling to tackle tough problems either. And our experience, as outlined above, can help. For instance, Vauter was not only the chair of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Section of the State Bar of Michigan (2012-2013), he’s also written articles for the Michigan State Bar Journal and helped with a publication for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE); given hundreds of presentations to professionals and lay audiences; drafted legislation; and counseled thousands of clients. He is also working on new pieces for publication in the State Bar Journal.
Vauter has been a member of NAELA (the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys), a member of the State Bar of Michigan and several sections of the bar, and he is admitted to the Eastern and Western (Federal) District Courts of Michigan. Vauter is certified as a mediator under the Michigan Court Rules (MCR 2.411) and offers mediation services, is a Notary Public and has a Certificate of Completion in Elderly Crime and Abuse: Prevention and Prosecution-a program jointly sponsored by the MSU School of Criminal justice and the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging. He is also a member of the Ingham County Bar Association.
Rooney has been certified as a HUD reverse mortgage housing counselor, and has been accredited to work with the Veterans Administration, and besides being a member of the State Bar of Michigan, he also belongs Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan. He has an interest in “start-ups” and new business development and purchases, attends business law institutes and bootcamps when he can, and also is the owner and operator of his own health and yoga related business in Michigan.
Pricing at The Place For Good Counsel℠
While not free, we think our rates are fair, considering our staffing and experience. Mr. Vauter charges $250.00 per hour. Mr. Rooney charges $220.00 on most matters, associate time is billed at $180.00 or $200 per hour depending on the matter or attorney involved. Paralegal and support staff time, when applicable, is billed at $ 80.00 per hour. Some matters are handled on a flat fee or a hybrid flat fee basis.
For instance, the three key items for basic solid estate planning, as well as an important consultation and analysis of your situation–to make sure the documents really meet your needs and desires, and give you the peace of mind you deserve–is available for a flat fee of $730.00 for estates that are modest to mid-range. Those 3 documents are a will, a durable power of attorney, and a designation of patient advocate (sometimes known as a medical power of attorney). If the assets of the estate involved turn out to be quite significant, or if the assets held by the individual are complicated in nature, additional costs might be incurred, but that is not very common. It is also possible to have us prepare just one of the three items too, if that is your desire, and as a flat fee then a will is $375; a durable power of attorney document is $255; a Michigan patient advocate (medical power of attorney) is $120, so the package price is a little bit less expensive than the individual price.
Trusts are a different or additional matter. Many people want a trust given the advantages a trust might have over having just a will. If you really want a trust too, and your situation dictates that a trust be created (whether to avoid probate, or better manage your affairs if you are seriously disabled before death, for instance) we typically develop those for your particular circumstances and the charges range from $1000 to $2400. (Sometimes a family might even have two trusts or arrangements not only to avoid probate but to qualify for Medicaid, and so on.) Part of the costs of the trust, eliminate or reduce costs that would be incurred if an estate needed to be probated later. This means that “funding” the trust is critical, and we can help with that.
Medicaid and long term care planning also lends itself to flat fee planning, but as that work can sometimes be broken out into pieces, we’d need to consult first to figure out what services would really be needed. The price range for our long term care consulting/Medicaid work, typically falls in the range of $2,900.00 to $8,400.00 depending on the complexity involved.
If your matter requires help from our “of counsel” attorney, or an attorney outside the firm, those fees are set separately.
Training and speaking arrangements are established on a case-by-case basis. Mediation services are also arranged on a case-by-case basis. We pride ourselves on being passionate and caring, and it shows in our work as well as relationships with clients, as you will see from the various testimonials.
It is possible to pay us via credit card* too, should you prefer. (*Regular fees and costs and retainers may be paid via credit card, if desired–however if we need to make a deposit in our client trust account for work related to your matter, those payments must be made by cash or money order or check so that we maintain our ethical obligation in regards to full accounting for any such funds.)