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How Much Will It Cost?

September 11, 2011

One of our goals with this blog is to address some of the questions we are most frequently asked by our clients. One of those questions – and the one that is probably the most frightening to clients – is “how much is it going to cost?” As you would expect, the answer depends on the type of work we are asked to perform. For estate planning most of our work is done on a “flat-fee” basis, which means that at our first meeting we will review your situation, explain your options, and tell you exactly what we will charge to prepare your estate plan. If you want to hire us to perform the work, we will give you a written fee agreement and typically require one-half of the fee in advance. This fee is “earned” by the firm when we send you a draft of your will or trust. The balance is due upon execution of the final documents. There is no charge for our initial consultation if you decide not to hire us. For a further explanation of our estate planning process, please see the Estate Planning FAQ.

For trust administration – the process of carrying out the terms of a trust after the death of the settlor – we charge on an hourly basis. We require a $2000 deposit and ask our clients to replenish the deposit each month. The cost of a trust administration varies greatly; some can be completed in a month or two, while others may last several years. The cost can vary from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. That being said, most of our trust administrations cost between $3000 and $6000 and last less than one year. Once again, all of the terms of our arrangement are explained in a written fee agreement.

We typically require a $5000 deposit to initiate a conservatorship proceeding. Of this deposit, over $1000 is used to pay the initial filing fee and a fee to pay for a court investigator. Our experience has been that few conservatorships can be completed for less than $5000.

Unless we are representing a client on a contingency-fee basis, we usually require a deposit of at least $5000 to represent a client in litigation. As explained in our litigation fee agreement, we charge on an hourly basis. We cannot guarantee what the total amount of attorneys’ fees and costs will be in a litigated matter; however, we are usually able to provide clients with an estimate of what it might cost to take a case through trial.

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