Flat Fee Matters
On most estate planning matters, we will be able to quote a flat fee for the work. If a flat fee is appropriate for the estate planning work, the fee will be quoted prior to the work starting. One-half of the fee will be due when the work begins and the remainder will be paid when the documents are completed, generally when the documents are signed by you.
Non-Flat Fee matters are charged at an hourly rate that require you to pay an advanced fee deposit of some amount. That deposit is sometimes sufficient to cover the fees and costs incurred to finalize your case but, because we cannot predict the actions of anyone else involved, we have no way to determine the total cost up front. In contentious or time intensive cases, the initial deposit may be only a portion of the total cost. The advanced fee deposit we agree on will need to be maintained throughout the case and may even need to be increased if the case has to go to trial.
Reduce Your Cost
The law requires that certain information be “disclosed”, meaning provided to the other party. The information that needs to be provided is fairly extensive. We will provide you a list of what is needed. You will save money and attorney time by providing everything on the list provided, rather than bringing in only bits and pieces, bringing in a few items at a time or not providing all documentation we request because you believe it is not necessary. We recommend that you gather everything you can from the list as soon as possible so that disclosure doesn’t drag out and become more expensive.
- Scan it in. Scan in and email the requested documents or put them on a disc. One way to reduce your expense is to scan in your documents and organize them into files. Providing those documents to the other party or their attorney is easier and less expensive than us scanning your documents into the computer to forward to the other party. There may be times when documents will need to be numbered for trial purposes and copies will need to be made but we can limit this expense as much as possible.
- Keep your phone calls short. Since you are paying your attorney on an hourly basis, keep your telephone conversations focused so you don’t have to make several calls a day. Consolidate your questions and ask them all in one conversation. If your call is not urgent, you are best off arranging a time to talk with the attorney. That way you know both you and the attorney will be available and neither of you will spend time playing phone tag and leaving messages.
- Use Email. Using email is a cost-effective way of communicating with your attorney or their staff. Sometimes a phone call is necessary because of the number or complexity of the issues needing to be covered but if an email can get the job done, it will probably save some money.
- Management of Your Case. One of the most important ways for a client to reduce attorney fees is by making informed and reasonable decisions about the management of their case. It is hard to think clearly in the middle of a divorce or other legal matter. These emotions can sometimes lead you to pursue outcomes that the law will just not provide. Pursuing an outcome that is impossible or is highly unlikely will be a waste of your money and pursuing a matter for “the principle” of it can be very expensive and not always satisfying. Your attorney wants to obtain the best outcome possible for you. If the attorney recommends not pursuing a course of action, listen to the explanation for the recommendation. Ask any questions you may have but, once an answer is provided, don’t continue to revisit the issue. You can spend a lot of money arguing against a conclusion that won’t change anything except your bill.
- Be Involved. Calendar the deadlines you are provided and make arrangements to take off work when necessary. Make yourself available to meet with your attorney before hearings so that you can be fully informed of what will take place at this hearing. Come prepared with your list of questions and any requested information to every meeting. Keep us informed of any changes to your telephone number, email or mailing address.
- Avoid Court When Possible. Sometimes you have control over going to Court and sometimes you don’t. An unreasonable opposing party can often leave you no option but to ask the Judge to decide issues. In those cases where you do have control, going to a hearing will create significantly more expense. Ask your attorney for other options to pursue rather than going to a hearing.