The deceased's will also names the executor, the person responsible for carrying out the terms of the will. In addition to paying the decedent's debts and bills and carrying out the distribution of the deceased's estate, the executor is also responsible for paying the attorney's fees. Ultimately, the estate will pay all legal fees, and in most cases, nothing is paid up front. Even if the will comes to a dispute, the executor and the lawyer cannot collect a penny until the court case is resolved.
The estate is responsible for covering the fees of estate attorneys. The executor or administrator doesn't pay anything in advance or owe anything. Unless it's an affidavit procedure, you'll almost certainly want legal representation when establishing the validity of a will. Some states, such as California, regulate probate attorney fees by law, prohibiting probate attorneys from charging more than a certain percentage of the value of the gross estate.
When it comes to determining who pays probate attorney fees, the first step is to calculate how much it costs. With this in mind, if a probate lawyer suggests that you handle the probate process on your own, listen to him. It's not uncommon for probate attorneys in Washington to negotiate a flat fee for things like filing documents. Whether they have a will or not, a probate lawyer can make things easier by advising executors on how to legally manage things.
While the estate usually pays for probate attorney fees, there are circumstances in which beneficiaries may have to initially cover these costs, but can then request reimbursement. Since the estate covers the probate attorney's fees, payment will not be made until the estate is finally settled. Here in Washington, legalizing inheritance is fairly straightforward, and there are two simplified options when it comes to legalizing inheritance. In most situations, it's best to contact a probate attorney certified by the Washington Bar Association for assistance.
The Illinois State Bar Association (“ISBA”) has issued an advisory opinion to the effect that attorneys representing their clients in probate cases cannot ethically charge fees that exceed the amount determined by the court to be reasonable. If you are involved in an estate case and need legal advice, LegalZoom can connect you with an attorney who can answer your questions. Remember that you don't need to hire a probate attorney during the process, but if you are an estate administrator or executor, you may want to talk to an attorney for advice. Unlike the name, this option involves probate courts, so it would be wise to hire a lawyer specializing in probate, which does include related costs.
The fee structure of a probate attorney can vary, but whether it's an hourly rate, a fixed fee, or a percentage of the value of the estate, these costs are generally paid with the assets of the decedent's estate. In some cases, inheritance assets will not qualify for any of the methods listed above, which would involve going through the entire probate legalization process.