ATTORNEY FEES FOR ESTATE PLANNING
We offer comprehensive and customized estate plans for our clients; some simple, and some very complex. Whenever possible, once we meet to discuss and identify your needs and objectives, we offer those services to you on a flat, or fixed-fee basis. This eliminates uncertainty in billing and allows us to focus on creating the best estate plan possible for your budget without having to worry about escalating costs. And if you use our new online virtual estate planning service, our prices are fixed depending on what kind of a plan you choose and which level of service from our office you select. We are happy to publish those prices publicly HERE.
ATTORNEY FEES FOR PROBATE CASES
Most probate attorney fees are set by statute in California, and we will discuss the statutory fee schedule with you during your initial consultation. We do request a reasonable retainer ("deposit") to get started, and credit you back the cost of your discounted initial consultation. At the close of probate, the final disbursement of funds and proceeds are made from the estate directly to the creditors, beneficiaries, executor, and the attorney.
Some attorney fees are paid on an hourly basis, such as work to establish guardianships and conservatorships, community property litigation, contesting wills and trusts, and a few others. In those cases, we request a retainer in advance and bill against that retainer. If and when the retainer is depleted, we request that it be refreshed before continuing to work. The amount of the retainer varies greatly from case to case, and we will discuss that during your consultation. And your consultation fee is credited back to the retainer (with a minimum retainer of $1,500).
ATTORNEY FEES FOR FAMILY LAW MATTERS
Many factors can affect the total cost of attorney fees in a family law case, including the complexity of the legal issues presented, the level of conflict between the parties, the size of the marital estate, the (un)reasonableness of the opposing party and/or opposing attorney, and the individual needs of each client. No two family law cases are exactly alike, and because of that, the cost of attorney fees in different cases which at first might seem similar to each other on the surface can actually be quite different from each other.
Most family law attorney fees are paid on an hourly basis. In those cases, we do request a retainer in advance and bill against that retainer. If and when the retainer is depleted, we request that it be refreshed before continuing to work. The amount of the retainer varies greatly from case to case, and we will discuss that during your consultation. And your consultation fee is credited back to the retainer (with a minimum retainer of $1,500).
HOURLY RATES vs. FIXED OR FLAT FEE RATES
This is frequently one of the first questions clients ask us when they walk through our doors. An attorney's hourly rate is based on a combination of factors, including the attorney's experience, qualifications, expertise and overall demand in the marketplace. But hourly rates don't tell the whole story. An inefficient or rookie lawyer with a lowball hourly rate may take three or four hours to complete a task that an experienced attorney with a higher hourly rate can finish in about an hour. We strive to be efficient and cost-effective in all services we provide.
Our hourly rates are mid-range for the Bay Area and Northern California, and we have not raised our hourly rates in the past five years, and the rate remains $395/hour.
From time-to-time, and when we are able to clearly identify the scope of attorney services that are needed, we may be able to offer our services at a fixed-fee rather than hourly billing. These occasions are the exception, and not the rule, but we are happy to offer a fixed-fee when the situation presents itself.
MORE ABOUT THE RETAINER
Retainers are deposited in advance, and are used to pay down legal fees as your case progresses. Unless we specify otherwise, your retainer is only for attorney fees, and clients must still pay their filing fees and other outside costs. We will facilitate this for you. When your retainer reaches a certain minimum threshold, you then post another deposit to replenish your account back up to the original amount (or some other amount as appropriate), keeping in mind that attorney fees are paid in advance with few exceptions. Initial retainers can range anywhere from $750 - $1,500 on the low end, to $10,000 - $15,000 on the higher end, depending on the complexity of your case and how time-intensive we anticipate it will be as we move forward. Retainers for most cases range from $2,500 - $6,000.
AUTOMATIC PAYMENT PLANS
This is an option we offers solely at our discretion and only in very limited circumstances for clients who have significant financial limitations, can demonstrate reliable and regular income from employment, and have a credit card available for automatic, scheduled payments each month. Under this option, a client may pay a lower retainer to open your account, and then automatically pay a fixed amount every 1, 2, or 4 weeks. At the end of your case, if you have a balance owing, you continue to make the fixed payment on the same schedule until the balance is paid off. If you have a credit on your account, we immediately stop the automatic payments and issue you a refund.
MILITARY AND MASONIC DISCOUNTS AVAILABLE
We offer discounted rates to military service members and their spouses, as well as to members of the Masonic family and Shriners, as our way of thanking you for your service to our nation and to our communities.