Estate Planning: No Hidden Costs and No Hiding My Fees

I had a great professor in law school that was one of those rare creatures who was a brilliant academic mind but also a gifted teacher.  Knowing she had an auditorium filled with young law students who were desperately seeking black and white answers, whenever a topic came up where the answer was not clearcut she would proclaim, “the answer is …. it depends!” and go on to explore the nuances of the matter.

I am often asked how much my family law cases will cost.  I can tell my clients what my initial retainer fee is but I cannot with certainty say how much my total fees will be at the end of the case.  There are so many variables – the complexity of the issues,  who is opposing counsel, availability of information, the dispute resolution model being used – my answer always begins with  “it depends” even when I am able to provide an estimate.

My estate planning practice is purely transactional.  After getting to know my clients, I work with them to develop a plan consistent with their goals and values.  We set our own time schedule and while each plan I create is tailored to the needs of each client, the scope of work is known at the outset.  Also, I work on a flat-fee basis.  Expectations and costs are known upfront.  It is a refreshing change from my less predictable family practice.

I focus my estate planning practice on the essentials most every person needs.  Estate planning is a technical area a practice that I studied for years before officially adding it to my legal repertoire.  I have put together a solid package of services that I offer my clients for a fair and competitive fee.  When I was setting my fee schedule, I took my experience into consideration and also looked into what was reasonable for our market.  I could not find a published fee schedule in the region.  At best, you’d get a squishy answer on the phone with the goal is to get you in the door and then agreeing to pay for services before you even know the cost.

As a researcher, not finding solid information on the cost of services was frustrating.  As a consumer, it was even more frustrating and frankly a bit baffling.  Who nowadays doesn’t research online and find out information beforehand?  And who doesn’t want a straightforward answer?  And why isn’t someone who wants your business giving that answer?  This is why I publish my estate planning fee schedule for all to see.  This answer is  … its right here.