Probate lawyers play a crucial role in the legal process following a person's death, helping to settle their debts, distribute assets, and navigate complex proceedings. While their counsel is invaluable, it often comes with questions about how their compensation works. Being unsure of how the process of hiring a probate attorney can cause families stress and may even dissuade them from seeking the help they need.
This post will delve into the two main ways probate lawyers get paid, clarifying the factors influencing their fees and how they are structured. Whether you're considering hiring a probate lawyer or you're simply curious about the process, we hope this information will be helpful to you.
A Contingency Basis vs. Hourly Retainers
A probate attorney may structure their fee in two primary ways: hourly or contingency. Neither method is better than the other, as both offer their own benefits to clients. While some attorneys opt to work on one type of fee basis or the other, here at Triay Law Office, we offer clients the option of retaining our services on either a contingency basis or hourly. Keep reading to learn more about each option.
An hourly retainer is quite straightforward - the attorney charges for every hour they spend working on the probate process. This charge includes consultation time, drafting and filing documents, court appearances, and any other tasks required. The hourly rate can vary based on the attorney's experience, reputation, and location.
At Triay Law Office, our hourly fee is $500/hour, and clients are billed monthly for the time spent on their case as well as any out-of-pocket expenses.
On the other hand, a contingency retainer means the attorney's fee is contingent upon the outcome of the probate process. In this case, the attorney receives a percentage of the estate's value if the probate is successful. This is less common in probate cases due to the nature of the work, but it may be used in cases requiring litigation, such as where the will's validity is in dispute. It's important to note that if the lawyer does not win the case in a contingency arrangement, they do not get paid.
At Triay Law, our standard contingency arrangement is to collect 33% of the recovered amount in cases that settle and 40% for cases that go to trial. Note: these percentages can vary depending on the nature of the case at hand.
Advantages of Hiring a Probate Lawyer on an Hourly Basis
Choosing to retain a probate lawyer hourly can have several advantages depending on the estate's complexity and the client's specific needs. One major benefit is the transparency of this arrangement. They have the opportunity to review and understand the work done and its corresponding cost.
Another advantage is clients' increased control and flexibility over their legal expenses. Since they are billed regularly, clients can closely monitor the amount of time being spent on their case and adjust their expectations or instructions to the attorney as necessary.
Additionally, hourly fees can work out in the client's favor in cases where the probate process is straightforward and relatively simple, as the overall cost may end up being lower than a contingency fee arrangement.
Advantages of Hiring a Probate Lawyer on a Contingency Basis
Opting for a probate lawyer on a contingency basis can be advantageous in a number of situations, including those that require complex litigation. However, the foremost benefit of this arrangement is that it allows clients to gain legal representation even if they don't have the funds to pay upfront. If an estate is complex or disputed, this can be a lifesaver.
Another advantage is that the client doesn't need to worry about ongoing legal bills. Contingency fees cover all the work the lawyer does, from the initial consultation to the settlement or trial. This can provide peace of mind to clients during what is often a stressful time.
Finally, when a client retains an attorney on a contingency basis if the lawyer does not win the case, the client does not pay.
Don't Hesitate to Ask for Help
The probate process can often appear daunting and intimidating. It's normal to feel overwhelmed when dealing with such matters, particularly in the wake of a loved one's passing. However, remember that help is readily available. Don't hesitate to reach out to an attorney for a consultation.
Importantly, seeking professional advice can alleviate much of the stress associated with probate, helping you navigate this challenging time with confidence and clarity. At Triay Law Office, we're committed to providing comprehensive, empathic support to ease your probate journey.
Fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.