Common Questions Regarding Attorney Fees

Estate Planning Fees

How much does a living trust cost?
 
Our philosophy is that by narrowing the scope of services offered, we can be very skilled in specific areas of practice. With constant changes in the law, especially in the tax and estate planning areas, it is very difficult for attorneys to be proficient in numerous areas of law. We analyze individual needs and goals and outline, design, and implement plans which meet your goals in the most beneficial and cost-effective way with the least possible paperwork and bureaucracy. In order to enable clients to compare the cost and benefits of a revocable living trust with other estate planning options, we offer package prices on living trusts. That way, you know total investment before you authorize completion of your estate plan.
 
Our Trust package prices include the following when applicable:
  • A revocable living trust agreement which eliminates probate and the need for guardianship or conservatorship proceedings in regard to all assets transferred into the trust.
  • Letters which provide all necessary information to your bank, stockbroker, insurance agent or other institutions where assets are located. These letters enable you to get assets transferred into your trust by simply filling in the blanks with pertinent information, delivering letters to appropriate institutions, and signing any forms required by them. We analyze proper titling and beneficiary designations on assets and insert instructions appropriate for your plan into the letters.
  • Personalized service with the attorney and trained assistants, so that all questions are answered and help is provided, with no additional cost. This service is included with the package price for a period of 30 days after your trust is signed.
  • Pour-over will(s) which ensure that all property is transferred to the chosen beneficiaries, even if an asset is not transferred to the trust during lifetime.
  • Durable power(s) of attorney which allow a spouse or anyone else of your choice to sign documents and handle affairs for you. This document is particularly helpful if mental or physical disability prevents a person from managing his or her own affairs.
  • Living will(s) or durable power(s) of attorney for health care which give directions to physicians and family members regarding continuation of life support systems.
  • A three-ring binder which contains all necessary documents and directions regarding procedures to follow if someone becomes incompetent or if there is a death. Various other informational documents are also provided, along with forms which can be completed regarding where assets are located, wishes for memorial services, and any other information which you consider to be pertinent.
The first consultation with any client regarding estate planning is free. After the initial meeting, if a living trust is appropriate for your situation and if you decide that a living trust is desirable for you, the following prices generally apply. By the end of the initial meeting, the attorney will verify which package would be appropriate for your situation. We do retain the right to bill outside of package prices for highly complex estate plans or more complicated drafting. If this is the case, the client will be notified during the initial consultation, prior to making a decision as to whether to authorize work to be done.
 
In determining whether the benefits warrant the cost, it is important to balance the cost of estate planning versus the cost if no planning is done. Potential costs of probate, guardianship proceedings, tax, and other expenses which can be minimized or eliminated through estate planning should be weighed against the cost of estate planning.
 
Costs of estate planning will vary substantially from attorney to attorney. It is very important that the quote for a living trust includes consultations, supplementary documents, and help in getting assets transferred into the trust, since a trust without assets will NOT avoid probate. Beware of mail order trusts, or trusts marketed by non-attorneys. Each individual estate plan is unique and must be designed specifically for you. Paying for an estate plan without personally meeting with the attorney is like having surgery without the doctor in the room. Results can be disastrous. Documents are worthless if they don’t fit your needs! We have reviewed plans which could create hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary tax liability due to improper drafting. By the time liability arises, the вЂ˜company’ may be long gone or uncollectible. Be selective in choosing the attorney who drafts your plan.
 
1. Single Trust Package ($1,200) for single person including (1) pour-over will, (1) patient advocate designation, and (1) durable power of attorney.
 
-no federal estate tax planning
-no testamentary trust created for minors
 
2. Married Trust Package ($1,300) for married couple (2 living trusts or 1 joint trust) including (2) pour-over wills, (2) patient advocate designations, and (2) durable powers of attorney.
 
-no federal estate tax planning 
-no testamentary trust created for minors
 
3. Single Trust Package ($1,300) for single person including (1) pour-over will, (1) patient advocate designation, and (1) durable power of attorney.
 
-no federal estate tax planning
-testamentary trust created for minors
 
4. Married Trust Package ($1,400) for married couple (2 living trusts or 1 joint trust) including (2) pour-over wills, (2) patient advocate designations, and (2) durable powers of attorney.
 
-no federal estate tax planning 
-testamentary trust created for minors
 
5. Married Trust Package ($1,800) for married couple (2 living trusts) including (2) pour-over wills, (2) patient advocate designations, and (2) durable powers of attorney.
 
-includes federal estate tax planning 
-no testamentary trust created for minors
 
6. Married Trust Package ($1,900) for married couple (2 living trusts) including (2) pour-over wills, (2) patient advocate designations, and (2) durable powers of attorney.
 
-includes federal estate tax planning 
-testamentary trust created for minors
-business continuation planning if needed
 
Preparation of assignments to transfer property into the trust, deeds, and other documents will be quoted separately, with fees depending upon the degree of title work or other issues which apply. The first deed preparation fee is included in the package price (cost of recording is billed separately). Any subsequent deeds are $50 per deed. (This fee does not apply to letters of instruction to provide information on transfer of bank accounts, publicly traded stock, or other transfers not requiring a separate form or document. Letters of instruction for transfer of these assets are included in the package price.) Any subsequent work to facilitate transfer of property into the trust is billed at the applicable hourly rate.
 
Business planning includes options to purchase a farm or business as part of the plan of distribution, or other issues specific to ownership of a farm or other business. Amendments to business agreements or analysis of other business issues are subject to additional fees. Trust packages for estates needing special or extensive planning — Fees will be quoted at the end of initial appointment. Package prices quoted above apply only to revocable living trusts. Signing appointments outside the office will incur an additional $100 fee (local area only). Information on fees for irrevocable life insurance trusts and other documents and services is available upon request.
 
How long does it take to complete a living trust estate plan?
 
A living trust estate plan can typically be completed within two weeks after the initial consultation. At an initial meeting you will discuss your individual situation and your goals with the attorney who then applies probate and tax law to your situation and recommends estate planning steps which will accomplish your goals. All information necessary for preparation of your plan is then given to the attorney, and a written statement of total cost for your estate plan is given to you prior to the time you decide whether you want to authorize work to be completed. If a written statement of exact cost cannot be given due to the need for more information from you, the written statement will be provided as soon as all information is received by the attorney and before work is authorized.
 
One to two weeks after the initial appointment, at a second appointment which is usually the final appointment necessary to complete all estate planning documents, all documents are explained, documents are formally executed, and the binder which includes all information on the estate plan is covered in detail. Necessary steps to complete the transfer of assets into the trust are discussed, including use of letters to deliver to institutions where assets are located. Questions which arise are answered during this conference, and additional questions regarding transfer of assets to the trust are included for one month after execution of documents at no charge to you. After the second meeting, you are prepared to proceed with all steps necessary to transfer assets into the trust. The estate plan is then complete.
 
What should I consider before the first meeting?
 
It is helpful, if before the meeting, you think about:
  • Who should be named as the person who would handle paperwork and control your assets if you were unable to do so? (This can be an individual, such as a family member or friend, or could be an institution, such as the trust department of a bank.)
  • Who are the beneficiaries who should eventually receive assets? This information would be the same as the plan of distribution which would ordinarily be put in a will.
Determine the approximate value of your estate, including all assets such as investments, real estate, personal property, life insurance, IRAs, and pensions. The total value of assets is not required to be disclosed to anyone, but, if you choose to disclose this information to the attorney, potential probate costs, tax considerations, and other costs or concerns may be analyzed. Exact values are not necessary since valuations change over time anyway, but knowledge of approximate net worth and the types of assets will be helpful to the attorney.
 
What should I bring to the first meeting?
 
It is helpful if you bring the following items to the initial meeting or mail them to the law office prior to the initial meeting:
  • A copy of your current will, if you have one, and copies of any other existing estate planning documents.
  • Copies of any deeds to real estate, the most recent property tax statements for real estate, and any documents regarding real estate such as mortgages or anything else restricting use or transfer.
  • Copies of promissory notes or contracts if anyone owes you money.
  • If you own a business, copies of any partnership, buy-sell, or corporate redemption agreements which may be in place.
  • A basic financial statement listing assets and liabilities and showing whose name assets are titled in and beneficiary designations.
How much does a will cost?
 
In order to enable clients to compare the cost of wills, powers of attorney, and patient advocate designations with living trust options, we offer package prices on wills. The first consultation with any client regarding estate planning is free of charge. After the initial meeting, if you decide that a will package is desirable for you, the following prices apply. By the end of the initial meeting, the attorney will verify which package would be appropriate for your situation.
 
In determining whether the benefit warrants the cost, it is important to balance the cost of estate planning with living trusts versus the cost of the following packages. Potential costs of probate, guardianship proceedings, tax, and other expenses can be minimized or eliminated through the use of living trusts. Many times, the cost of estate planning with living trusts will be thousands of dollars less than the costs of the following will packages. Nonetheless, some people choose to plan their estates contemplating the use of probate proceedings. Therefore, we have provided the following prices so that you can make an informed decision regarding your estate planning needs.
 
Will Packages
 
1. Single Person Package ($350) including (1) will, (1) patient advocate designation, and (1) durable power of attorney.
 
-no testamentary trust created for minors
 
2. Single Person Package ($400) including (1) will, (1) patient advocate designation, and (1) durable power of attorney.
 
-testamentary trust created for minors
 
3. Married Persons Package ($500) including (2) wills, (2) patient advocate designations, and (2) durable powers of attorney.
 
-no testamentary trust created for minors
 
 ($575) including (2) wills, (2) patient advocate designations, and (2) durable powers of attorney.
 
-testamentary trust created for minors
 
Package prices quoted above apply only to wills and the respective documents. Information on fees for revocable living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts and other documents and services is available upon request. All prices above are subject to change based upon complexity of planning. Occasionally we have clients who request price quotes on individual documents apart from the package lists above or listed on the living trust fee sheet. Below are our prices for individual documents.
 
(1) Will ($200)
 
-no testamentary trust created for minors
 
(1) Will ($250)
 
-testamentary trust created for minors
 
(2) Wills ($275)
 
-no testamentary trust created for minors
 
(2) Wills ($325)
 
-testamentary trust created for minors
 
(1) Durable Power of Attorney ($150)
(2) Durable Powers of Attorney ($200)
 
(1) Patient Advocate Designation ($150)
(2) Patient Advocate Designations ($200)
 
Signing appointments outside of the office are an additional $100 (local area only).
 
How long does it take to complete a will?
 
A simple will can typically be completed within two weeks after the initial consultation. At an initial meeting you will discuss your individual situation and your goals with the attorney who then applies probate and tax law to your situation and recommends estate planning steps which will accomplish your goals. All information necessary for preparation of your plan is then given to the attorney, and a written statement of total cost for your estate plan is given to you prior to the time you decide whether you want to authorize work to be completed. If a written statement of exact cost cannot be given due to the need for more information from you, the written statement will be provided as soon as all information is received by the attorney and before work is authorized.
 
One to two weeks after the initial appointment, you will come back into the office for a second appointment. The second appointment is usually the final appointment necessary to complete the documents and have them formally executed. Questions which arise are answered during this appointment.
 
What to think about before coming in.
 
It is helpful, if before the meeting, you think about: 
  • Who should be named as the person who would handle paperwork and control your assets if you were unable to do so? (This can be an individual, such as a family member or friend, or could be an institution, such as the trust department of a bank.)
  • Who are the beneficiaries who should eventually receive assets? 
Determine the approximate value of your estate, including all assets such as investments, real estate, personal property, life insurance, IRAs, and pensions. The total value of assets is not required to be disclosed to anyone, but, if you choose to disclose this information to the attorney, potential probate costs, tax considerations, and other costs or concerns may be analyzed. Exact values are not necessary since valuations change over time anyway, but knowledge of approximate net worth and the types of assets will be helpful to the attorney.

Criminal Defense Fees

How much do we charge for criminal defense? 
 
The first consultation with any potential client is free of charge and completely confidential. Only after we fully evaluate your case can we give you a solid quote. Generally, we charge a retainer fee against which our hourly rate (currently $250) is billed against. For many cases, what you pay for a retainer fee will be your total attorney fee. Our retainer fee for misdemeanor cases start at $1,275 and increase according to the seriousness of the offense you are charged with and the complexities of your case including whether there are multiple charges. However, for most cases that are heard in the local district court and end in a plea agreement, our fee will be $1,275 for all court appearances and sentencing.
 
For felony cases, our fees start at $2,500 and increase according to the seriousness of the offense and the complexities of your case including whether there are multiple charges.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

The cost for a divorce varies on a case by case basis based upon complexity. Your initial retainer fee will typically be in the range of $1,500-$3,500. The attorney will charge an hourly rate of $250 per hour until your initial retainer is used up. Costs advanced on your behalf will also be taken out of the initial retainer fee. Cases that proceed smoothly can typically be completed without exhausting the above fee.

How Do We Get Paid In Personal Injury Cases?

There is no charge for your initial consultation or telephone call and all your questions will be answered with no obligation on your part. We never charge a fee unless we obtain a recovery for you. Our fee is usually 1/3 of your settlement or verdict. We will advance all costs for investigators, experts, filing fees and other expenses associated with obtaining the maximum recovery possible in your case. If a recovery is not made, you do not owe any attorney’s fees. We will explain the full details of our fee and cost agreement before we begin representing you on your personal injury claim.