I am looking for a probate attorney and when researching about the fees, I became confused. I have one property to sell through probate approx $650-700K and $300K in personal property, cash.
If I have Limited Authority with court confirmation required, is that more beneficial then having Full Authority because I can get more money and the court deciding keeps it fair?
One of the attorneys I spoke to recommended Limited Authority for that reason, and said I must require a 5% deposit. This seems like a lot of deposit.
Another attorney told me the complete opposite! Saying that having Full Authority is better because I can sell the property faster and easier, without having to go to court to get the approval. He said going to court costs $300-$500 per hour attorney's fees. Is this true?
I just want to know what is best. My whole family is happy with me handling the sale of my aunt's estate, so we have no objections. Please let me know if you can help. Thanks, Laura
Wow! Neither are correct. Probate is very regulated. Probate attorney fees are set by statute and are 4% of the first $100,000, 3% of the next $100,000 and 2% of the next $800,000. If the value exceeds $1,000,000 an additional 1% over that amount will be due. You, as administrator earn the same fee as the attorney, period. Under no circumstances should you pay an attorney hourly. Additionally, the fees are only paid at the end of the probate by court order so a "deposit" of 5% is inappropriate. Note that due to the size of the estate, you might be able to "shop" for probate attorneys and save some money. While the fees are set by statute, everything is negotiable. At the end of the day however you want an attorney who will work hard, communicate with you, and get the probate done as quickly and easily as possible - if you are in Los Angeles, that is important because that court moves very slow. With regard to authority, get Full Authority, especially if you can get everyone to waive bond. It will be so much easier. Good luck.
Excellent and detailed response from Christine James.
Probate attorney fees are set by statute.
Based on gross value of probate estate.
Fees paid from estate.
Fees and costs must be approved by court.
Extraordinary fees may be based on hourly rate agreeed upon by attroney and administrator.
I generally recommend requesting full authority for several reasons:
-reduces cost of probate
There are pros and cons as to going either Iimited authority vs full authority. Each has an advantage and when it come to the sale of real property, this could be very important. Asking for funds to be paid prior to a final court order for payment of attorney fees is "sketchy" in my opinion and my practice is different. Charging an hourly rate above the statutory attorney fees would only be for extraordinary costs over and above the normal costs for probating an estate and getting court approval, in my opinion, for sale of real property under a normal court procedure does not justify extraordinary fees for which I could charge an additional hourly fee over and above the statutory fees allowed. This is only my opinion. And statutory fees can be negotiated down by the client and the attorney if the work is actually going to be less. Again, only in my not to be so humble opinion.
Extraordinary fees are based upon the attorney's regular hourly rate. Any extraordinary fees requested by the attorney must be specified in a a separate fee declaration which includes, the number of hours expended in any extraordinary service and what extraordinary service was performed. For instance, the attorney's request totals 10 hours of extraordinary service times the attorney regular hourly rate of $350.00. (10 x $350.00). The requested extraordinary fees would total $3,500.00. That request would have to be approved by the court. The court, in its discretion, can reduce any extraordinary fee request. In my practice, extraordinary service would include the sale of the real property.
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