Generally speaking, attorney’s fees are the responsibility of the executor of the estate. The executor is the person assigned to carry out the terms of the will. The executor usually is authorized to pay the attorneys fees out of the estate before distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.
As for the fee arrangements with the attorneys, there are a few different arrangements in probate matters. Attorneys cannot always predict the complications that might arise throughout the course of the lawsuit. Most probate matters are straight forward without thousands of dollars for attorney’s fees. Quite often the Illinois probate attorneys we suggest will only require clients to pay upfront the court costs and will wait until the probate estate is officially closed before they take a fee.
A second fee arrangement is a contingency fee arrangement. In a contingency fee arrangement, the client pays nothing unless he or she ‘wins,’ meaning they recover some money or property from the lawsuit. Under a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney advances all the fees and costs incurred by the case, and the client and attorney agree on a percentage of any final award that the attorney will keep if they recover. If the client does recover, the attorney first gets paid his percentage share of the final award (ranging from 20 to 40 percent), and then reimburses the costs and fees which he advanced in pursuit of the client’s claim. If there is no recovery then the attorney receives nothing. It’s a risk/reward proposition.
Although they are a possibility, contingency fee arrangements in probate cases are not very common. They are most common in cases involving a contested estate. We do know some well-qualified attorneys that will consider such cases on a contingency basis, so if this is of interest to you, please call or email us for a referral. Contingent fees are only appropriate in a contested estate case where one party is disputing a will.
Finally, some attorneys will also set a flat fee for the client in probate case. A flat fee is arranged in advance as a “final amount due” based on the attorney’s estimate of how much time and work will be required. As previously mentioned, predicting the life of a probate matter is often very difficult, hence flat fee arrangements are generally reserved for simple probate cases where no contest or complicated assets are involved.
Every probate attorney we recommend will talk to you for free and help you decide what fee arrangement is right for you. If you have any questions or need a recommendation, please do not hesitate to contact us.