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I recently became executor for my mother's estate in Pennsylvania. (I live in Illinois.) I'm also the only heir. At my first meeting with the attorney I asked what his fee would be. He immediately pulled out the state bar assoc. chart and told me about $6000.

Now the estate is a house, household goods, car, checking account, and mutual fund account. Total estate will be a little over $100,000. I'm retired and am handling clean out of the house myself as well as sale of car and household goods. Mutual fund account transfer requires me to fill out only two pieces of paper. I told the attorney I thought $6000 legal fee for such a simple estate was ridiculous and wanted to him to work on an hourly basis. Right away he got defensive but finally agreed to work for $100/hour. (I'd bet his usual fee is closer to $75.)

When I got time to visit my own attorney to take care of some necessary changes in my estate plan due to mother's death, I decided we should discuss his fees, since he will be co-executor of my estate. He was shocked at the fee the PA attorney had requested. Said Illinois had outlawed percentage fees years ago, and he always works on an hourly basis.

I'm keeping track of the estimated hours the PA attorney puts in and will challenge his bill if it is unreasonable. But the lesson is always ask first. Just because the attorney is sympathetic at your time of loss doesn't mean he won't screw you. And you have little grounds for objection if you wait for the bill before discussing the fee. Also plan ahead and work out something with your own attorney in advance. Could save your family a lot of money and stress.
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'm keeping track of the estimated hours the PA attorney puts in and will challenge his bill if it is unreasonable. But the
lesson is always ask first. Just because the attorney is sympathetic at your time of loss doesn't mean he won't screw you.
And you have little grounds for objection if you wait for the bill before discussing the fee. Also plan ahead and work out
something with your own attorney in advance. Could save your family a lot of money and stress.


I have settled estates in Pa and from what you said you can do it yourself.

I too was out of state and went to the Pa. attorney who drew the will. He would only work for a fix %. Would not consider hourly fee. I said no and hired my NJ attorney (could pratice in Pa) for a little advice. Worked well. I had several trips to the court house but everyone was very helpful. We cleaned out the house so we were in town so the visits to the court house was no problem.

I had asked the Pa attorney about a revocable trust and he said it was not needed. (It was not because I did the work and cut him out but it would have saved money if I would not have done the work myself). My NJ attorney also told me no trust for myself. The differences is in NJ the fix % is not legal and my assets and heirs are straight forward. He did tell me that if I moved to Florida I should consider a trust.
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billjam wrote,

When I got time to visit my own attorney to take care of some necessary changes in my estate plan due to mother's death, I decided we should discuss his fees, since he will be co-executor of my estate. He was shocked at the fee the PA attorney had requested. Said Illinois had outlawed percentage fees years ago, and he always works on an hourly basis.

I'm keeping track of the estimated hours the PA attorney puts in and will challenge his bill if it is unreasonable. But the lesson is always ask first. Just because the attorney is sympathetic at your time of loss doesn't mean he won't screw you. And you have little grounds for objection if you wait for the bill before discussing the fee. Also plan ahead and work out something with your own attorney in advance. Could save your family a lot of money and stress.


Great post!!!

Here's an article on the same topic:

"Estate Planning for Early Retirees -- How to Avoid Getting Screwed"

http://home.earthlink.net/~intercst/relawyer.html

intercst
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I would ask him for an estimate of how many hours he thinks this will take. If it sounds reasonable, I would ask him if he would set his fee at that amount. If he does not want to set his fee, I would shop for another lawyer.
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