Jonathan H. Parker with Parker and Maloney, PA, probate attorney in Miami, Florida, New Jersey and Hawaii explains how to protect your money in the probate process.
It is important to know that you—the estate’s personal representative—does not pay the probate lawyer’s fee from your own pocket. You can use estate assets to pay bills and fees before the heirs get their shares.
Kinds of fee arrangements
Jonathan H. Parker usually charges the estate one of three methods: by the hour, a flat fee, or a percentage of the estate’s value.
Hourly Billing: Because we are specialists at probate, our time is worth far in excess of the hourly fee we charge. This is because you benefit from our being efficient at steering many probates through local courts and knowing how to prepare and file documents in the way the judges like them. We bill our associates and paralegals at lower hourly rates, therefore saving you even more. We bill in minimum increments of six minutes (one-tenth of an hour).
Flat Fees: Some clients don’t like the hourly billing option and want to know up front how much the fee will be for settling the estate. In these cases, we charge a flat fee for probating the estate. If you choose this option, make sure you understand what it does and does not cover. For example, when we establish a flat fee, it does not cover contested matters where beneficiaries are fighting in or out of court.
Percentage of the estate’s value: (Note: This is permitted in Florida but not in New Jersey or Hawaii.) This is a customary approach when assets must be located or litigation to recover them is required and there is no guarantee of the outcome. We calculate the fee based on the gross value of the probate assets, not the net value.
Your fee agreement will always be in writing
No matter which fee arrangement you want, probate lawyer Jonathan H. Parker gives you your lawyer-client agreement in wiring. As with most agreements, the most valuable part is not just having the terms on paper; we answer all your questions so there are no surprises.
Your agreement will cover:
Billing method—hourly, flat fee or percentage
Expenses the estate pays separately, such as court fees, postage, and publication of legal notices
How the lawyer’s work will be described on the bills—work done in each increment of time so you don’t just get a bill for legal services, research or trial preparation
How often the firm will bill you
When your payment is due
Call our office today for a free initial consultation and discover how working with Jonathan H. Parker will save you money.