Consulting with a trust & estates lawyer can be a daunting experience for various reasons. One reason should not be ambiguity over the lawyer’s charges. We endeavor to be clear about the charges: whether by setting a flat fee arrangement or by making a good faith estimate of charges if we are engaged on an hourly basis.
New Maryland Estate Planning and Asset Protection Matters
Our standard initial consultation fee for Maryland estate planning and asset protection matters is $500. When you set up an appointment, we will send you a questionnaire designed to gather preliminary information about your concerns/objectives and about the nature and extent of your assets. The initial consultation meeting lasts about one hour. At that meeting, our estate planning lawyers will discuss with you your estate planning concerns, your expectations and your goals and any potential tax or other issue relevant to your situation. Our trusts & estates lawyers will give you preliminary suggestions as to how to address your concerns and either offer a specific estate planning recommendation or frame the issues you need to resolve before a plan can be structured. After the initial meeting, you will receive a follow-up letter setting out those recommendations or unresolved issues and giving you an engagement proposal if you want us to prepare the documents or assist you in taking the other steps necessary to implement the plan. The majority of our estate planning work is done on a flat or set fee basis that is discussed with you at the initial meeting once we know the extent of the work involved. If you hire our estate planning firm (most do) then the consultation fee is credited to our retainer and becomes part of the flat fee.
New Estate/Trust Administration
If you have been named as a personal representative or trustee, we discuss the fee arrangement at our first meeting. For most uncontested matters, we structure our fee as a charge against the Maryland probate or trust estate. For probate fees to be chargeable against the probate assets, court approval or consent of all of the interested persons is required. Court approval of fees may not be required with trust administration, but are governed by other rules related to your fiduciary obligations. In each situation, your estate administration attorney will discuss with you the scope of the work that will be required and, in most cases, we structure a set or flat fee and we set out how, and when, that fee should be paid.
New Fiduciary Litigation
As with new planning matters, our standard initial consultation fee is $500 for fiduciary litigation. At the first meeting we will analyze the facts and discuss with you the substantive merits and the challenges of your case. At that meeting, we will also discuss the fee arrangement and what we anticipate may be involved in the litigation. Most cases are handled by billing for the time involved. Sometimes we structure the fee on a reduced hourly basis with a coupled contingency fee structure.