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When Does a Probate Lawyer Get Paid?

When Does a Probate Lawyer Get Paid?

Your loved one died. You think you need to do a probate. But you weren’t planning on spending a bunch of money on a lawyer right now. There are four main ways that a lawyer can get paid from a probate.

Your loved one died. And you weren’t planning on spending a bunch of money on a probate lawyer right now. You’re asking yourself, “When does a probate lawyer get paid?” Some lawyers will ask for money up front. Sometimes the lawyer will be willing to wait.
There are four main ways that a lawyer can get paid from a probate. Find one that works for you.

Flat Fee Paid Up Front

First, the lawyer could charge a flat fee up front. That normally happens when the probate will be straight forward. The lawyer can predict the amount of work required. You need to come up with the money at the beginning of the process. Then you can get reimbursed out of the estate later.

Hourly Fees, Partly Paid Up Front

Second, the lawyer could charge hourly and ask for payments along the way. With this approach, the lawyer will still ask for some money up front. But you don’t know how much the legal fees will end up being. To protect you, the probate lawyer is still required to charge a reasonable fee. So at the end, if you think the lawyer charged too much, you ca ask the probate judge to review the fees.

Contingent Fee

Third is the contingent fee. That means the lawyer will get paid a percentage of the estate at the end. That’s not very common (at least for administering a deceased person’s estate). It is more common if the case involves getting property returned. Or for going after someone who financially exploited a vulnerable adult. The advantage is that the lawyer only gets paid if he or she is successful.

Hourly Fees, Agreement to Get Paid Later

Finally, the lawyer could charge hourly and wait to get paid later. The lawyer will agree to this method of payment only if he is confident of getting paid. The lawyer will want to make certain that his or her client will be successful. In other words, if there is going to be a dispute over who is in charge, the lawyer will not agree to get paid later.
Here are some examples of when the lawyer will want to get paid up front, or take the case on a contingent fee basis:
1. If there is a dispute over who should be in charge. Maybe more than one family member wants to become Personal Representative.
2. If the estate is asset rich but cash poor. In other words, there isn’t much money in the estate. In this situation, the lawyer might be concerned that the family won’t want to sell the house to pay the lawyer fees. That would put the lawyer in an awkward position. The lawyer would not want to force a family to sell a house to pay his legal fees.
3. If there is a No Contest clause in the Will or Trust and there’s a risk of violating that provision.

Still Wondering When Does a Probate Lawyer Get Paid?

If you’re still wondering when does a probate lawyer get paid, just give us a call at 602-443-4888. Or fill out our convenient contact form and we’ll get back to you. We’ll answer your questions. No pressure. We just want to help.


Founding attorney Paul Deloughery has been an attorney since 1998, became a Certified Family Wealth Advisor. He is also the founder of Sudden Wealth Protection Law.