Fee arrangements of a probate lawyer
Lawyers have to decide how they will charge their clients for probate work. They can either do it by the hour, with a flat fee or percentage of estate assets value based on which is most beneficial and desirable at the time. Clients would like an affordable solution that also meets their needs best as well so this is what attorneys strive for when deciding between options.
Hourly fee in Probate
Many probate lawyers bill their clients by the hour. The hourly rate will depend on how much experience and training a lawyer has, where you live, and whether they practice in a big law firm or a small one. A typical fee for someone who works solo is $350 an hour; but rates can be as low as $250 if not lower depending on the location of your office, size of town that it’s located in, or region(s) which the client resides within. Big firms generally charge higher fees than sole practitioners or smaller firms unless all individuals are exclusively top-level specialists.
Fixed/Flat fee in Probate
Probate is a drawn-out process, and sometimes it can take months before the matter wraps up. As such, lawyers usually charge their probate clients with a flat fee to avoid burdening them with all of those pesky “billable hours.” They know that when they have an average case like this one in front of them – which could potentially last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 years – then charging by the hour would be too risky because there’s no telling how long it will go on for.
Percentage of Estate value
Probate lawyers are paid in many ways, but from the estate’s point of view, it is best to negotiate for an hourly rate or flat fee. The worst way is paying a percentage of the value of your loved one’s assets as their fee which varies by state and even those states require that you can try negotiating with them about fees before they start working on probating your family member’s will.
It may be tough finding a lawyer who prefers this kind of payment structure because most prefer “statutory fees” like these tend to have high rates whereas some work has been done while others don’t need much time at all so less charge goes towards labor costs and more money ends up coming out.
Get the Fee agreement in writing
No matter what kind of fee arrangement you have, get the terms in writing. As with most agreements, it’s important to write down your discussions as well – not just the final agreement.
The agreement should cover:
1.)The flat fee, or the hourly rate of each lawyer and legal assistant who may work on the estate.
2.)What lawyer will be your main contact at the firm?
3.)An estimate of how much it might cost in total, as well as an estimated number for a time period that you are looking to have done by this company (e.g., “a month”).
4.)Expenses that you’ll pay separately while they do their jobs such as court fees and postage- anything extra related specifically to them working on your behalf but not included within their agreed-upon price is what we’re talking about here.
5.)How exactly does he want us to bill him/her during increments of time spent doing said task(s)?
6.)When would he like his payments to be due?
A probate attorney can cost more than you may have expected
There are many factors that will increase the cost of a probate attorney. Some examples include:
•Difficulty with property division in an estate, such as when it is unclear which beneficiaries should receive what share; or
•When there needs to be a court order for title insurance because one beneficiary refuses to buy out another’s interesting and wants their name on the deed instead; or
•A tricky financial situation where creditors need to be paid before heirs get anything else from an inheritance.
How to save money on probate lawyer
Probate lawyers are expensive, but they’re a few things you can do to save money on them. Tips on probates for saving money.
1.) You can negotiate with them. Suggest that they serve primarily as an advisor and you fill out the forms, provide notice of the deceased’s passing to a court clerk’s office or judge, and have any paperwork reviewed by their attorney for errors before submission.
2.) It would be wise to choose an experienced probate attorney who can handle the executor’s responsibilities without spending valuable time getting up-to-speed.
3.) Be concise and efficient with your work. Hiring an attorney who charges by the hour can be costly, so make sure you only bother them when it is essential or necessary to do so.