When you lose a loved one, taking care of their estate is rarely how you want to mourn them. But it needs to be done, and you want to do it right. Taking care of the estate requires going through the court, so you wonder whether hiring a probate lawyer would be worth it. Before you reach out to a lawyer, you want to know, How much does a probate lawyer cost in Houston?
The short answer is it depends. Several factors may affect your final bill, depending on what you need assistance with and the case’s complexity. The best way to learn how much a probate attorney will cost is to contact one. At Robbins Estate Law, we offer free consultations, allowing you to explain your situation so we can estimate how much it is likely to cost.
What Is the Attorney’s Fee Structure?
One of the first things you should understand when selecting a lawyer is their fee structure. Some lawyers charge flat fees, some charge an hourly rate, and some combine flat fees with hourly rates depending on the work. Your lawyer should be upfront about the fees they charge and for what. Although it is unlikely they can provide an exact estimate, your lawyer should be able to provide a range of costs.
Did the Person Have a Will?
Apart from the rates the lawyer charges, what the lawyer will need to do affects what you can expect to pay. One factor is whether the person had a will or not. Different steps and considerations are involved when the deceased does not have a will. For a smaller estate without challengers, probating an estate without a will can be cheaper.
How Likely Are the Heirs to Agree to Important Decisions?
One of the most significant factors affecting the cost of a probate lawyer in Houston is whether there are people who have challenged or are likely to challenge the will. Will challenges can take what would have been a simple, quick case and draw it out for months or even years. Legal fees can add up over time, but the risk of not being represented usually justifies those costs.
Another significant factor is how much trust the heirs will put into the personal representative who administers the estate. If everyone agrees, you may be able to avoid much of the court’s oversight through an independent administration, saving on court costs.
How Large Is the Estate?
Smaller estates and estates with minimal real and personal property often cost less. If the deceased left behind an estate valued at $75,000 or less, you can follow the small estate administration procedures. These streamlined procedures can simplify the case and mean your lawyer must do less to close the estate.
How Complex Is the Estate?
Another complicating factor is the complexity of the estate. If everything goes to the deceased’s spouse under the will, ensuring the will is followed can be simple. However, if the will creates several trusts administered on different terms, it can take more time to verify that everything is happening as it should.
How Old Is the Will and How Organized Are the Assets?
These questions often go hand in hand. The longer it has been since the deceased updated the will, the more likely it is for inaccuracies to arise and for assets to be lost or transferred. Additionally, if the deceased was not organized, it is likely the will contains inaccurate statements or refers to assets that are difficult, if not impossible, to locate.
If your loved one left a pile of assets in a shoebox under their bed, or if the will distributes more or fewer assets than the deceased actually had, it becomes more difficult to administer their estate. Assets may change after the will is written, leaving apparent contradictions or provisions that cannot be fulfilled. When that occurs, your lawyer may have to negotiate the fairest distribution under the will’s stated intent or even question the will’s validity.
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Houston?
How much a probate lawyer costs depends on how long it will take to close your loved one’s estate. If your loved one has a complex will that people are lining up to challenge, you will likely owe more in attorney fees than a simple will leaving everything to their spouse.
Regardless of your situation, the attorneys at Robbins Estate Law can help. We have years of experience assisting clients through probate in the Houston area. Contact us today for a free consultation to get a handle on what you can expect to pay for a probate lawyer in the Houston area.