What does it cost for legal advice when someone dies? I sit down on an initial consultation of 45 minutes for $150, if it turns out there is nothing further you need to do with a lawyer. In other words, if due to the nature of the assets and the bills, you can take care of everything on your own, then this is the time and cost to set you in the right direction. The fact that the decedent did or did not die with a will is not determinative on what, if anything needs to be done when a person dies. A will is helpful to give one’s property at death, especially if it a different plan than what the law would otherwise provide. But it is not a silver bullet so that if you have one, you simply distribute, pay no taxes, and avoid the state from taking the children and all the money.
If it turns out that you need a lawyer to assist in a small estate affidavit, I can help where needed and the rate is $350 @ hour. Last year I helped a man file and administer one of these and the cost to the estate was $1,200.
If you do need a probate, then I don’t get paid until the end and then only by court order. Court costs, bonds, publication fees, etc…for a probate, as opposed to attorney fees, are paid by the client as we go along. They are reimbursed by the estate to the client at least before the close of the probate. Attorney fees are often highly overestimated: everyone has heard of the lawyer who basically got the whole estate, alla Charles Dickens. Well, that didn’t happen in Oregon, if it happened anywhere. Generally, a probate without any outside litigation will run about $4,000 to $7,000: it all depends on the amount of time and the complexity of the issues. On the other hand, the costs to others are more than most imagine. The filing fee to the State of Oregon is based on the county where the probate is filed and the amount of the estate. So for example, in Multnomah County, the filing fee is $457 for estates below $500,000, the cost of publication in the Daily Journal of Commerce is $134, the cost of a final accounting for the same below $500,00 estate is $100, etc.. If there is no will, the court very often requires bonding which is an amount that depends on a number of factors including the size of the estate, the type of assets and the personal representative. Recently a woman was assessed a bond premium of $1,200 for an estate of about $380,000.
Hope to hear from you soon.