How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost?

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“How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost? Most people are concerned about the cost of probate and lawyer fees. Although the answer depends on several factors, understanding the process and estimating costs can help you make an informed decision.”

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How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost?

Bit About Of Probate

During probate, a deceased person’s estate operates under the supervision of the court, which includes paying off debts and distributing property. Executors of the dead person’s will or administrators appointed by the probate court handle the estate. This person acts as a “personal representative” if there is no will.


Precisely What Is A Probate Lawyer?

Attorneys who specialize in probate matters are called probate lawyers. A probate lawyer fee, or estate lawyer fee, is a fee that the client pays directly to the attorney for legal services; it is not the same as a probate cost, which may include:

  • Average cost of probate lawyer for personal representation
  • Fees for court appearances
  • Fees for notice publication
  • Fees for accounting
  • Fees for appraisals
  • Fees for recording deeds


Is There A Fee For A Probate Lawyer?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that probate is expensive. I mean extremely expensive. If you’re already looking into probate lawyer costs, you can expect to hear that probate is costly.

It costs approximately $14,000 on average to probate an estate. A large part of the $14K sum comes from hiring and retaining a probate lawyer, even though hiring and retaining a probate lawyer is just a tiny part of the probate process.


In What Ways Are Probate Lawyer Fees Charged?

Typically, lawyer fees calculate in five ways:

  • The hourly rate
  • There is a flat fee
  • Fees for retainers
  • Fees for contingencies
  • Estate value as a percentage

There is a variety of probate law lawyers who charge clients by the hour. Their hourly rates will vary depending on their experience and training, location, and whether they practice in a large or small firm.

Generally, big firms are more expensive than sole practitioners or small firms if they are comprised solely of hot-shot specialists. In small towns, rates may be as low as $150/hour; in cities, it is unusual to find rates below $200/hour.

In the case of estate planning and probate, a lawyer who only does those types of work will likely charge a higher hourly rate. However, you will benefit from the fact that the specialist will be more efficient. When a lawyer has handled several probates, they probably know all the local rules and how to prepare and file documents correctly.

It is common practice for attorneys who do probate work to assign learner legal assistants to handle routine paperwork. These associates and paralegals should charge a lower hourly rate.

A lawyer or legal assistant bills in six-minute increments (one-tenth of an hour) in many states. For example, if your lawyer spent two minutes on a phone call on behalf of the estate, you will be charged two minutes.


Do hourly rates make sense in certain situations?

  • You may need a lawyer to assist you through a general legal process.
  • The process must have an end date.
  • Consultation with a lawyer regarding a specific issue.


Is there a time when hourly rates aren’t appropriate?

  • If you plan to work with the lawyer on a long-term basis.
  • You can get the help of a lawyer to draft a contract for your business.
  • Assisting you with bankruptcy proceedings if you need a lawyer.
  • To prepare a deed or will with the lawyer’s assistance.


An hourly rate’s advantages

The following are some of the benefits of hourly rates:

  • It’s simple to understand.
  • When you pay, you see what you are getting.
  • Lawyers and clients can address the level of need based on their needs.
  • Flexibility is possible.


Hourly rates have disadvantages.

  • Specific tasks take a certain amount of time; the longer they take the more money you will spend.
  • When you receive the final bill, you can see how many hours (or partial hours) you spent on specific tasks.


Flat Fees

How much does an estate lawyer cost? Lawyers often charge flat fees to their probate clients so they don’t have to keep track of their time down to the minute. The client doesn’t like paying for all those six-minute intervals, nor do lawyers like keeping track of their “billable hours.”


Flat Fees


Due to their knowledge of how long probates usually take, they can charge a fee close to what they would receive if they billed by the hour. It’s easier to feel relaxed when you aren’t worried about running up costs with every question you have for the lawyer.

If you pay a flat fee for legal work, be sure you understand what it covers and what it does not. For instance, you may still have to pay fees for court filing, recording documents, or hiring appraisers.


Do flat fees make sense in certain situations?

  • To draft a legal contract, you will need a probate lawyer.
  • A probate lawyer can assist you with preparing a will or deed.
  • It is best to limit attorney costs if you only need their services for one specific purpose.


What are the situations in which a flat fee is not appropriate?

  • In the event, you are seeking the assistance of an experienced probate lawyer in a legal proceeding or step of the process.
  • The probate lawyer needs to be your long-term business partner.
  • A complex legal matter involving many variables requires difficult legal advice.


Flat-fee advantages

  • Costs are not unexpected.
  • The services you pay for and the benefits you receive are clear to you.
  • Transparency is at the heart of this payment method.
  • It’s time to take care of the expenses.
  • Lawyers do not have to keep track of their hours.


Flat-fee disadvantages

  • There is no room for flexibility.
  • The additional services you request are not available.
  • If the legal needs of your estate increase, the lawyers cannot ramp up.


Retainer Fees

It is common for probate attorneys to charge retainer fees when they assist with the process of probate and estate settlement.

As the lawyer works on the client’s legal matter, the lawyer deducts funds from the retainer. Retainers are an innovative method of paying the lawyer. The client gives the lawyer an up-front payment that they agree upon.

Upon the retainer dropping below a certain amount, the lawyer will only work on the case once the retainer reaches a certain amount. There are no guarantees that the retainer will cover the costs of the probate lawyer. Instead, it establishes a working relationship between the lawyer and the client.


Is it a good idea to get a retainer?

  • Probate lawyers are a good choice if you wish to develop a long-term business relationship.
  • Over an extended period, you will need the lawyer’s help.
  • A variety of legal issues may require the lawyer’s assistance.
  • In the case of complex or multivariate legal matters.


Do retainers make sense in certain situations?

  • A specific legal issue is all you need legal advice about.
  • A single legal process is the only one for which you need legal assistance.
  • Contract creation requires legal aid.
  • When writing a will or deed, you will need legal help.


A retainer fee’s advantages

  • That trust begins when a client pays a retainer fee to a probate lawyer.
  • It is possible to develop legal strategies that span a more extended period.
  • Establishes a stable, uninterrupted working relationship.


The disadvantages of retainer fees

  • The drafting of contracts, wills, and deeds is not practical.
  • Probate lawyers and their clients need help working together effectively using this method in a short-term relationship.
  • The cost of retainers can add up over time.


Fees Arrangements in Contingency

In contingency fee arrangements, a lawyer accepts a fixed percentage of the total amount recovered in an appeal rather than charging by the hour. If the case does not succeed, the lawyer does not get paid.

A lawyer working on contingency usually charges between 30% and 40% of the total estate value recovered. The exact percentage depends on the complexity and amount of work involved. For example, if the real estate value retrieved is $100,000, the lawyer would charge between $30,000 and $40,000.

When hiring a probate attorney, ask about their fee structure if you want to know how much they receive when money comes from creditors or other parties.


Do contingency fees make sense in certain situations?

  • A substantial monetary settlement may be possible in a particular case.
  • The client will likely win the case.
  • Disputes related to probate, such as will contests, could result in monetary distributions.


When are contingency fees not justified?

  • It is only possible to settle the case for a significant amount if the issue is worth paying.
  • We can help you with questions related to probate or a specific process.
  • Whether you need help drafting a will, contract, deed, or other legal documents.
  • A probate attorney is a good choice if you want to establish a long-term business relationship with them.


Contingency fee advantages

  • There are no upfront costs.
  • If you win a monetary settlement, you will be required to pay the lawyer, so you won’t even be responsible for the payment.


Disadvantages of contingency fees

  • Lawyers will receive a significant portion of any settlement you win.
  • In addition to attorney fees, you still must pay other court fees and expenses related to your case, even if you do not pay your lawyer’s fees.


Percentage of the Estate

How much does a probate lawyer cost in California? Some states require lawyers to charge a percentage of the estate’s value as their fee, but it isn’t mandatory. You can negotiate an hourly or flat price with them. However, most people prefer this option because it is usually well-compensated for the work involved.

State statutes that allow percentage fees are as follows:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Wyoming

How much does a probate lawyer cost in California? Because these fees depend on the gross value of the probate assets instead of the net value, they are often unreasonable in these circumstances. In this case, the lawyer’s fee depends on $300,000, not $200,000 of equity—even though the house is worth $300,000, the mortgage still owes $100,000.

Why should the fee for preparing probate paperwork for a $700,000 house be higher than that for a $150,000 home? Preparation of probate paperwork requires less effort for a $700,000 place than for a $150,000 one.


Check out California’s statutory fee schedule for an example:

  • An amount equal to 4% of the gross probate estate value for the first 100,000
  • The next $100,000 will be 3%
  • The next $800,000 is worth 2%
  • The next $9 million is 1%
  • ½% of the next 15 million
  • If it is over $25 million, it is “a reasonable amount.”

With a gross estate value of $500,000, lawyers would charge $13,000 in legal fees. If you paid by the hour, that would buy a lot of work hours.


When is it good to calculate a percentage of an estate’s value?

  • The cost may be worth it if you have a large estate and need a probate lawyer’s assistance for several legal concerns.


Do you know when the percentage of estate value doesn’t make sense?

  • Most of the time, this payment method needs to be revised. It is only financially advantageous if the estate is vast and complex.


The benefits of calculating estate values as a percentage

  • Ideal for estates with a lot of complexity.
  • If you require the assistance of a probate lawyer throughout the whole probate process, this service is perfect for you.


The disadvantages of the percentage of estate value

  • Very expensive
  • You will pay more for this method than any other.
  • Only seven states allow it.


How Much Does Probate With A Will Cost?

How much do probate lawyers charge? The surviving relatives of a deceased person must go through a probate procedure if they own real estate or other assets of significant value. If a dead person had a Will that provided for an independent administration, as is standard for lawyers to do in a Will, probate in California would cost $750 to $1,500 in attorney’s fees.

California has about $380 in court costs, although attorney fees can be higher in complex estates.

When your loved one puts together a simple Will before passing, the cost may range from $1,200 to $3,250, depending on the Florida probate attorney flat fee and circumstances. The total cost is $1,200 or more if they did not have a Will before passing. Compared to what you would have to pay if the deceased person had not had a Will, this may seem like a lot, but it’s a steal.


Probate without A Will: The Costs

How much is a probate lawyer? A deceased person who owned real estate or other assets of significant value and failed to transfer those assets by beneficiary designations will require some estate administration or similar process at some point to transfer those assets.

A person who dies without a Will (intestate) faces endless complications regarding how their assets will proceed. Regardless of the complexity of your estate, your family is likely to be obligated to pay at least $2,500 to $3,000 in fees and expenses, and fees and costs can exceed $5,000 for more complicated estates.

When this happens, it assumes that the potential legal heirs agree to what should happen with the estate. A loved one’s estate may pass in a way that is not what they would have liked without a Will. The result can be family disagreements and heartbreak during an already difficult emotional time.

An application may need to determine heirship and administer the estate if there is no consensus among the potential legal heirs on settling the estate, with an estimated cost of about $6,500 or more.


Bottom Line

Please contact Attorney Real Estate if you would like to learn more about our probate attorney fees and how we can assist you with managing these costs. We are here to answer any questions and guide you through the probate process.

Families often experience much stress during this difficult time, so we want to make it as simple as possible.

Hedy Ghavidel

HEDY GHAVIDEL Managing Attorney  Roseville Office  1-866-471-6981  Bio...

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