Not always. For most estate planning cases (wills, powers of attorney, revocable living trusts, special needs trusts, and deeds) and certain consultations, we charge a flat fee. This is easier when the work has a predictable start and ending point, and we can estimate the amount of time it will take us to complete the work which will not be affected by other people’s actions. It is our experience that clients usually prefer a flat fee arrangement, so that they know in advance how much they will be billed. Such an arrangement also allows our clients to schedule as many appointments and ask as many questions as may be necessary to ensure complete comfort with the final product, without being concerned about fees continuing to accrue as issues are resolved.
We sometimes are able to charge flat fees in probate proceedings; depending on our assessment of the likely complexity and the possibility of objections, contested creditors’ claims and the like. Most often we quote a minimum fee that represents what we think it will cost to complete the matter but we are not locked in should some unexpected thing occur. This enables you to have some realistic expectation of the fee without us having to set it higher than normal to hedge our bets of a guaranteed fee.
We also may charge flat fees for other services. For example, if a home visit is required for consultation with an attorney or execution of estate planning documents, we will add an extra flat-fee charge for that visit.