If you’ve recently lost a loved one and find yourself in need of hiring an estate attorney to guide you through the estate administration process, make sure you do your homework before you make a decision.
When it comes to legal fees for probate estate administration services you are typically going to find that most attorneys charge one of three ways: on a percentage basis, on an hourly fee basis, or on a flat fee basis. So which one of these methods is right for you? Let’s take a closer look.
If an attorney proposes that they are going to base their fee on five (5%) percent of the total value of the decedent’s estate, things are going to start to get expensive pretty quickly. Namely, let say the person’s estate is a fairly small one and consists of a house, a few bank accounts and a couple of other small assets and that everything combined is worth a total of around $200,000. Well, doing the simple math, at five percent that would translate into legal fees of $10,000. Wow you might think, that seems like an awful lot for what should be a fairly simple and straightforward matter. Guess what, you’re probably right.
So, if a percentage basis isn’t the way to go, does that mean an hourly fee arrangement is the better choice? Not necessarily. When you enter into an hourly fee arrangement with an estate attorney you will quite literally have no idea what your total legal fees will be until you get to the end of the probate process. You might be in for an unpleasant surprise when you get the attorney’s billing invoice and find that you were paying $250.00 per hour for his or her services, $125.00 per hour for their paralegal’s services and that every phone call, letter, email or other communication you had during the whole process was being billed.
So, if you can get burned just as easily by hiring an estate attorney on an hourly fee basis, what’s left? I’ve found in our practice that, far and away, most of our clients prefer a flat fee billing arrangement. Why? Well because that way they’ll know precisely what they will be paying for our legal services and they won’t be in for any unpleasant billing surprises when we get to the end of the process. So does a flat fee arrangement mean that we charge the same set fee for every estate that we administer? Of course not. Every estate is different and we take into consideration not only the size of the estate, but also things like what type of assets are involved, how may beneficiaries and heirs there are, how well the heirs appear to get along, and how simple or difficult we believe the particular matter at hand will be. What doesn’t change, is that on a flat fee basis the client will always know precisely what they are going to pay and that the fee won’t be paid until the probate estate administration process has been completed.
American Wills & Estates is a locally founded, owned and operated law firm that has been guiding clients in Pittsburgh and throughout Western Pennsylvania through the Probate Estate Administration process with competency, compassion and care for over 25 years. We have a number of convenient office locations and also offer home, hospital, evening and weekend appoints upon request. We provide comprehensive free initial legal consultations and offer the majority of our estate administration services on an affordable flat fee basis.
So, if you’ve been named as the Executor or Personal Representative of a loved one’s estate and are not sure where to turn for trusted, experienced and affordable legal assistance, give us a call today at (412) 381-7370 to schedule your free consultation or visit our law firm online. You’ll be glad you did!