In a full, or normal, California probate case the attorney fees are set by statute. It’s set in stone what one will pay and, absent extraordinary circumstances, the fee can not be more than that. Also, the attorney fee should not be paid before the Court order. Money for costs most certainly can be requested up front by the attorney but not the attorney fees.
What about a small estate? That is a petition to transfer real estate worth less than $150,000. What then? All attorneys do this differently. We try to be as flexible as possible. Most clients who hire us to pursue a small estate want to hire us on a FLAT FEE BASIS. That is, they want to know up front exactly what it’s going to cost them. They want certainty. This makes sense.
Thus, for a typical small estate probate we will offer a FLAT FEE which INCLUDES all the Court costs. You write a check, we deposit it in our law firm’s attorney-client trust account, we do the work, and then we remove the money from our trust account. That’s how the majority of our small estate clients pay. Flat fee and up front.
However, not everybody has money sitting in the bank to hire a good attorney to complete their small estate. We know this, we understand this and we want to help you! We thus, in some cases, will offer you the ability to pay a flat fee at the close of escrow. That is, we will front the Court costs, file all the documents, and then get paid after the house sells… or at some other future date.
Contact John Palley, our lead probate attorney, to discuss these options for your case.