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How Do I Pay Attorney's Fees in a California Trust Litigation Case?

Estate Law Trust Litigation How Do I Pay Attorney's Fees.jpg

How does your trust litigation lawyer get paid if the trust has equity in real estate but insufficient trust cash to pay the trust's attorney fees?

You choose to make a trustee, heir or beneficiary accountable. Ultimately your choice benefits the trust and its rightful beneficiaries. The probate and trust litigation attorney that you engage to force accountability and recover lost assets from wrongdoers is helping to bring closure to the financial mayhem caused by others. You are thankful. You know that the probate litigator now deserves to be compensated. The most important thing is that the assets of the trust are protected and further harm is prevented. The simple truth is that part of accountability is now paying the estate attorney for his or her efforts. How is this done when the trust estate is "real estate rich and cash poor"?

In the real world of trust, estate and probate litigation, it is not unusual that a trust lawyer receives court ordered partial compensation from available cash proceeds and must wait for final compensation until the trust estate's real property assets are sold. In these cases the trustee's petition to the probate court can include a requested order that an abstract of judgment secure the Court order for lawyer compensation. This abstract of judgment, ultimately recorded in the County where trust or estate real property is located, will put all third parties on notice that there is a lien against the estate property that must be paid or sale or refinance of the real property. This is an effective way to pay attorney fees in trust lawsuits. Here is how this process works:


A. Request For Authorization To Pay Trustee's Attorneys.

1. The time frame for representation is outlined. A Declaration by the Attorney for the Trust ("Fee Declaration") is attached as an Exhibit that more fully describes and itemizes the services, time and hours expended in connection with the Trust matter. The average hourly rate is disclosed and out-of-pocket costs are listed. The Petitioner requests that the Court approve and order such amounts.

2. The Petitioner also requests that the Court order the Superior Court Clerk to issue An Abstract of Judgment attaching a Certified Copy of the Court's Order.

B. Order Approving Compensation of Attorneys To Trustee

1. The Court finds the number of hours expended by the Trustee's Attorneys to be reasonable, identifies the number of hours, identifies the average hourly rate and identifies the out-of-pocket costs.

2. The Court order recites that payment of the dollar amount to the law firm and its out-of-pocket costs are approved and directed.

The Court orders the Superior Court Clerk to issue an Abstract of Judgment attaching a Certified Copy of the Court's Order.

C. Certified Abstract of Judgment

A Certified Abstract of Judgment is issued by the Superior Court Clerk and Recorded in the County Recorder's Office where the Trust has real property.

So now when you ask the question as to how the attorney who protects the trust may ultimately get paid when the trust has far more real estate than liquidity, you can see that there is a method of payment that can work for the trust, its beneficiaries and the attorney that is hired to protect its interests.

Hackard Law's probate litigation lawyers assist family members in estate, trusts, will and probate litigation in Northern California counties - with most matters located in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, San Joaquin, Alameda, Nevada, Marin, Santa Cruz and Sonoma Counties. If you want to speak with California trust litigation attorneys, don't hesitate to call us today at (916) 313-3030.

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