During a recent seminar, someone asked me how lawyers determine the fees they charge their clients for a succession. This is a great question and one that does not have one right answer. There are a number of ways in which Louisiana succession fees are structured, and a number of factors go into determining the amount your family will be charged.
The 3 basic fee structures are the hourly rate based system, the fixed fee system, or the percentage fee system. With hourly rates an attorney will charge you by the hour for work performed to complete the succession. Larger estates and estates which are contested in court are going to take much more time to complete and the fee will quickly rise in those instances. Be sure to ask how many hours your attorney expects to spend on the succession so you are not shocked by the final bill. I’ve met with a number of people who seriously underestimated the time an attorney would spend completing the succession of a loved one, and those people were in for a big surprise when they finally received a bill for those legal services.
Under the percentage structure, attorney’s fees are determined by taking a percentage of the total estate value. This is usually a percentage somewhere from 1-2.5% of the estate value. To illustrate, lets say an attorney charges 2% fee on a succession of an estate that is worth $1,000,000. The fee charged would total $20,000. This is certainly a high cost for an average sized estate, and there is the possibility that additional fees could be charged in the event of complication or snags in the succession process.
The fixed fee structure makes the succession process much more predictable when it comes to determining costs. Fixed fees are usually offered when attorneys take on successions where there will be few complications and little chance that the succession will be contested in court. Attorneys take a number of factors into consideration to come about this fee including the value of the estate, the number of parties involved, the amount of real estate and other property involved, and the potential for complications.
Our firm always charges a reasonable fixed fee taking into account the above factors, and we make sure there will be no surprises when it comes to the amount you or your family will be charged to complete a Louisiana succession. If you are in need of a succession for one of your family members or have any questions, call me at (504) 274-1980 or (985) 246-3020.