1. Our Approach to Billing
Unlike many law firms, we do all we can to make the client experience manageable for you. Rather than demanding large retainers, we take minimal retainers and trust you to pay in accordance with our fee agreement. Our clients have almost never let us down.
We also don’t nickel-and-dime you for the cost of photocopying, telephone and fax service, postage and the like. We bill for our work and our out-of-pocket expenses.
And we don’t bill in units of a tenth or a quarter of an hour. We turn on the clock when we start a piece of work, and we turn it off when we stop. Our system tallies the time to the second, and that’s what we bill.
2. Billing Arrangements
Different projects are billed in different ways.
Estate Planning work is usually billed on a flat-fee basis. The fixed dollar figure is determined in our initial meeting, based on the nature and complexity of the project. We usually take half of the fee at the first meeting and half at the final signing of documents.
Some estate planning projects have follow-on work after the signing, for which we bill on an hourly basis, usually at a rate that is discounted from our standard hourly rates.
Residential Real Estate transactions and some straightforward Probate / Administration matters are billed on a target-fee basis. We establish a dollar figure that is typical of the fee that would accrue for that type of project, then we track our time at an hourly rate. If the logged time exceeds the target figure by 20% or more, we ask that you pay the higher amount; if the logged time is more than 20% under the target fee, we refund the difference.
All other matters, including almost all Contentious Estate matters, are billed at our standard hourly rates. Very occasionally, we agree to take a case on a contingency fee basis, whereby our compensation, or a component of it, would be a percentage of the amount we recover for you.
All of our fee arrangements are normally set forth in a written and signed engagement letter. Occasionally, an email exchange will establish the arrangement or a variation to it. Our standard terms of engagement apply to all matters, except to the extent they are altered by our written engagement agreement.
In all projects, expenses are billed at cost. These may include express mail and messenger services, court fees, co-cousnel fees, title and lien searches and other services that are appropriate and necessary to the work.
3. Payment Arrangements
For flat-fee and target-fee projects, payments are made at scheduled times — for Estate Planning projects, these are the beginning and end of the work; for target-fee Probate / Administration matters, it’s usually four monthly payments.
Matters that are billed on an hourly basis are usually billed each month. Under certain circumstances, we can agree to defer payment to the end of a project. In such cases, we usually apply a premium to the deferred amount and require a minimal monthly payment to keep the project going, in addition to the coverage of expenses.
4. Methods of Payment
We take cash, checks and most major credit cards. We do not accept Bitcoin or non-US currency.
5. Final Payments
While most of our clients are very reliable, it is our standard practice to ensure full payment of our invoices by withholding the final deliverable items until the final fee is paid. In real estate transactions, we require that our final invoice be paid from the final proceeds of the transaction or escrow balance, as the case may be. In matters involving receipt of funds from third parties, we will expect you to direct the payment of our final invoice directly from the amount to be delivered, or to direct the final payment to our escrow account, from which we may take payment.
6. Elder Planning
We conduct Elder Planning work in four phases. The first three are charged on a flat-fee basis, since the scope of work is relatively well defined. The final phase – support for the implementation of the plan – may vary considerably from one client to another, and is thus charged at our discounted hourly rates.
a. Initial Consultation and Overview – A 45-minute consultation to introduce the issues and processes of Elder Planning. $300
b. Analysis – Gathering comprehensive information about your assets and circumstances, and production of a detailed set of recommendations for your specific needs. $3,000
c. Documents – Production of Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, and, as necessary: Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy-Living Will, Guardianship Designation. $1,000 If other Estate Planning documents are needed, these would be priced separately.
d. Implementation – Assisting in the transfer of assets to the proposed legal structures and facilitating the development of appropriate investment plans to ensure successful financial results with the reorganized and protected assets. Billed at $125-225 per hour.
These are the fees that are charged when the process is pursued in sequence as a whole. Other arrangements would apply under different circumstances.
7. All information presented on this page is entirely subject to the written engagement agreement for any particular project.