Are you trying to navigate the probate process? It can be challenging to figure out the steps you should take, and probate code can be laborious to make sense of if you do not have the expertise and training. Though it is not required to hire a lawyer to probate an estate in California, it is wise to do so to avoid making mistakes and getting tied up in probate court.
Before hiring an attorney, it’s wise to do some research, so you know that you are making the right choice. But you might find that the process of finding a good probate lawyer is just as confusing. Every lawyer has a different area of expertise, reputation, team structure, and communication style. You need to assess these factors to ensure that you hire a probate lawyer who is acting in the best interest of you and the estate. Another factor that can determine your decision is how much a lawyer charges for their services.
The unfortunate answer is that it’s impossible to give you an exact estimate or cost figure because the answer varies. Where you live and what type of legal assistance you need will determine your probate attorney’s fees. Additionally, there isn’t a standard for how attorney probate fees in California must be invoiced, so rates and overall charges vary significantly.
The best way to know how much a specific probate lawyer costs is to make a phone call or set up a meeting, but understanding how they charge their fees can help give you an understanding of what you are looking for.
Who Pays for a Probate Lawyer?
It is important to note that if you are administering the estate of a loved one or if you are the personal representative of a decedent’s estate, then you do not have to pay a probate lawyer’s fees out of your own pocket. The payment will come from the estate’s assets before the inheritance is distributed. In cases that warrant extraordinary services, lawyer fees and executor payments are determined by the court.
Probate Lawyer Fee Arrangements
Hiring a lawyer can be an expensive endeavor because their time, knowledge, and expertise are valuable. But that does not mean hiring a good lawyer is out of reach for those on a budget. The best way to know if a probate lawyer is affordable is by first finding out how they bill for their services.
The most popular way a lawyer bills for their time is by an hourly rate. This rate varies based on the location and expertise of the lawyer. For example, lawyers in more rural areas will typically have lower rates than those in big cities. Similarly, lawyers who work in a small private practice will charge less than those in a team at a large firm.
If you have a straightforward case without complicated filing needs, then a lawyer may choose to charge by flat rate. This is often the case with lawyers who typically only practice probate law and are well acquainted with the process and time it takes for an average probate case. This saves the attorney time and effort in keeping track of service billing and can give you a clear picture of what you will be paying, saving you from racking up a large bill. Keep in mind, though, that this flat rate does not include additional costs such as court filing fees and appraisals.
Some lawyers prefer to work for a fee based on a percentage of the entire estate. This is not typically the best scenario for the estate itself because payments can be very expensive. But it may be a good choice for those with a complicated estate that requires a lot of services from a lawyer. Percentage fees are only allowed by law in seven states, which includes California. The amounts of California statutory probate fees are structured in the California probate code.
A Word About Estate Planning
Are you planning your estate and only researching the cost of a probate lawyer to determine how much of your estate will go towards attorney fees during probate administration? If so, it is important to note that it is possible to place your estate in a trust that can avoid probate. If done correctly, your heirs and beneficiaries stand to inherit the total amount of your estate directly and will not be held up by legal proceedings to receive their inheritance. If you are interested in learning more about avoiding probate, set a consultation with the Legacy Lawyers today.