Yes, for most types of matters, the initial consultation (which typically lasts for to 1 hour) is free.
We charge fixed, flat fees whenever possible, because we understand that it can be unnerving to have to agree to pay for something when you don't really know how much it will cost.
For estate planning, all work is done on a flat-fee basis. After an initial consultation, we will sometimes quote a fee for the planning process, which is generally between $300 and $1,000, depending on the complexity of the estate and the client's goals. (Many simple estate planning situations can be handled without a planning fee, for example, the preparation of a simple will and power of attorney only.) The planning fee covers all consultations, document review, correspondence, and other services that culminate in a detailed oral or written report of the client's current situation, relevant issues and concerns, and planning recommendations, often with the pros and cons of different options outlined. The report will also set forth the fees for completing document preparation and execution for the options discussed.
For preparation of a simple will, the cost is generally in the $600-750 range; more complex wills and trusts can range from $750 up. A complete revocable living trust-based estate plan for an individual is typically around $2,000; for a couple, we usually charge a fixed fee of $3,150.
For other matters (e.g., probate administration, trust settlement, litigation), flat fees may be quoted after an initial consultation, or hourly billing may be more appropriate. By way of example, a simple, informal probate proceeding can often be completed for around $2,000.
Attorney services, $275 per hour; Paralegal services, $90.00 per hour.
Generally, 9:30 - 6:00, M-F, but appointments can be scheduled at other times, if necessary.
Estate planning and probate law provide an opportunity to use my skills in writing, analyzing complex laws and regulations, and 'number-crunching' to solve complex problems for people from all walks of life. It is satisfying to provide clients with different options and help them to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each, and ultimately decide upon and implement the solution that works best for them. Knowing that my work (whether in devising and implementing an estate plan, establishing a guardianship, or assisting survivors in administering the estate of a loved one) prevents conflict and stress at a very difficult time in people's lives (and sometimes, saves them lots of money) is very rewarding.
The more clients understand about the issues that affect them, the easier it is to assist or represent them. I appreciate clients' efforts to learn about such matters, and if they are interested, will direct them to appropriate resources for that purpose. Educating clients is a substantial part of what I do, and if they are willing to seek out basic information on their own, our time together can be used more productively and efficiently.
I am willing to review documents prepared by clients, advise as to potential pitfalls and suggest corrections if necessary. A self-prepared document will sometimes accomplish all of a client's goals, and if it does not, it can provide a good indication of the client's values and concerns, as well as a starting point for discussions.
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