Probate Attorneys in Ohio: Understanding the Cost
Probate attorneys are legal professionals who specialize in helping clients navigate the complex process of settling a loved one’s estate after they pass away. If you live in Ohio and are looking for a probate attorney, you may be wondering how much you can expect to pay for their services. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the factors that can impact the cost of a probate attorney in Ohio.
Attorney Fees for Probate Estates
Attorney fees for probate estates are usually quoted at the beginning of the representation and paid at the end after probate court approval. Many attorneys require a retainer fee upfront, which is a deposit that is held in the attorney’s trust account and used to guarantee the payment of the fee and cover court costs. The executor may advance this retainer before the estate is opened and receive a reimbursement of the fee when the estate funds are distributed.
How Probate Attorneys Charge Fees
Probate attorneys typically charge attorney fees in three different ways:
- an hourly rate
- a flat fee
- a percentage of the total estate value
Hourly fees are most common, followed by a percentage of the estate. Hourly rates for probate attorneys in Ohio typically range from $250 to $400 per hour. The exact rate charged by an attorney will depend on several factors, including their level of experience, the complexity of your case, and the geographic location of their practice.
Approval of Attorney Fees by Probate Court
Whenever a probate attorney is paid from estate funds, the probate court must always approve the attorney fee, whatever method is used. Most county probate courts publish an attorney fee schedule which is usually used as a guideline for determining the reasonableness of the fee. This fee schedule calculates fees on the basis of a declining percentage of the gross estate asset value (for example, 4% of the first $100,000, 3% of the next $100,000, and so on). It’s important to note that this fee schedule only defines what is a presumptively reasonable fee, and attorneys are prohibited from representing the fee schedule as a minimum or maximum fee schedule.
As a general rule, attorneys seeking to charge higher fees than the fee schedule must make an application to the court for extraordinary fees and prove that the work justified the higher fee.
Here at Carson Law Firm, we typically estimate fees based on the court’s fee schedule. If there are enough liquid assets in the estate, we usually ask for a small deposit to cover court costs with the expectation that the fee will be paid from the estate assets at closing. Our clients have found this to be an ideal arrangement, as it incentivizes us to close the estate as soon as possible.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Hiring a Probate Attorney
Simple probate cases, where there are few assets and no disputes among heirs, tend to be less expensive than complex cases with numerous assets, multiple heirs, or disputes over the validity of a will. Some probate attorneys may offer flat-rate fees for certain types of cases, while others may charge a percentage of the total value of the estate.
It’s important to keep in mind that the cost of hiring a probate attorney in Ohio is just one factor to consider when deciding whether to hire one. Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process, and having an experienced attorney on your side can help ensure that everything is handled correctly and that your loved one’s wishes are respected. Ultimately, the cost of hiring a probate attorney should be weighed against the potential benefits of having professional legal guidance throughout the probate process.
In conclusion, the cost of a probate attorney in Ohio can vary depending on several factors, including hourly rates, case complexity, and additional fees. While the cost of hiring an attorney may be a concern for some, it’s important to remember that having professional legal guidance during the probate process can help ensure that everything is handled correctly and that your loved one’s wishes are respected. If you’re in need of a probate attorney in Ohio, it’s important to do your research and find an attorney who has the experience and expertise to meet your specific needs.