My mother's estate is worth $450,000, mostly in real estate. The lawyer is charging $20,000. There are some debts against the estate that need to repaid. Is his fee reasonable?
First, and foremost, your fee agreement controls in this situation. Next to that, in Indiana, many counties publish fee guidelines as part of local rules and these guidelines for attorney fees are based on the gross value of the estate, minus payment of federal estate taxes. In one Indiana county, a $450,000 gross estate would break down as
6% of the first $100,000 ($6,000)
5% of the next $200,000 ($10,000)
3% of the next $700,000 ($4,500)
So, in that county, an attorney fee of $20,500 for a gross estate of $450,000 would be presumptively reasonable.
Advice on this forum is for informational purposes only and should never be mistaken as a substitute for legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice, you should consult local legal counsel.
Family Law Attorney
I'm licensed in California although usually in this state, it's based on a percentage of the value of the estate. What does your fee agreement say? My suggestion: no lawyer can answer that question as you've stated it. In addition, if you already have a lawyer, just ask.
General Practice Lawyer
What did you agree to and are there any statutory guidelines? If you think the fee is unreasonable, first examine your invoices or statements to determine what work was done and how much was charged. Then discuss your concerns with your lawyer. If you are still dissatisfied, you can consult an expert on legal fees (usually a lawyer) to review the invoices , the agreement, and the file and give you an opinion, or you can complain to the state bar.
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