This sounds more like an estate administration and not estate planning matter. Most lawyers charge by the hour for their time. In Maryland estate administration fees are capped by statute, but estate planning fees are not. You should refer to your retainer agreement with the attorney, and determine the scope of the work, whether it was to be performed on an hourly or fixed basis, and what the basis of the charge would be. Planning and fees can vary markedly depending on the work done, and the nature of the retainer.
This fee could be very reasonable, or it could be way to high. You see depends on the scope of the planning and your particular circumstances. I practice in California and a fee for a couple with a modest estate (unlikely to be worth more than $1M on their death) usually runs about $2000.00 Bump it up to $2M and it may range between $2500 and as high as $3600 for a trust that provides some good asset and divorce protection for the beneficiary's. But when you get up over $2m the fees can jump up quite sharpely.
This is where it becomes very important to have an attorney who has a strong tax background. When you have an estate this size you want to make sure he/she has plenty of experience dealing with larger estates. You should look for an attorney with an LLM in tax or one who is also a CPA. Not to say that there are not a lot of very good estate planning attorneys that are not LLMs or CPAs, but those credentials are a strong indication of an attorneys tax knowledge.
It is not uncommon for my fees to reach as high as $30,000 and have reached as high as $80,000 for large estates containing various assets including closely held business.
Fees also very from state to state so you might want to shop around in your state. The reasons for this is that the laws regarding probate very from state to state. In some states, like California, it is arguably malpractice tp prepare a will for a client that owns real property without discussing the benefits of a trust. This is because our probate process is very expensive. I understand however that in several states a will may be an appropriate and less expensive option.
I hope this is helpful.
Marty Burbank, JD, LLM
Your question really can't be answered because some estate planning is simple and some quite complicated. A simple Will and associated documents, might take 304 for hours of a lawyers time. When it's more complicated, involving one or more trusts with lots of assets and estate tax planning, the hours can increase dramatically. Also, some people require little explanation while other require a lot. People who require more explanation use more of a lawyer's time
The first thing you need is an itemized bill along with a copy of whatever retainer or engagement agreement you have. I suggest you then consult with an experienced lawyer who can give you an evaluation of the appropriateness of the charges.