People with probate, estate and trust disputes often ask us to discuss how a contingency fee arrangement might work in their cases.
Let's first note that California has both statutory and ethical rules that govern attorney-client fee arrangements. All of our attorney-client fee agreements must conform to these statutory and ethical requirements.
The nature of a contingency fee is that the client pays fees to a lawyer only if the lawyer handles the case successfully. This arrangement only works where money or valuable assets are being claimed.
In an estate related contingency fee arrangement, the attorney agrees to accept a fixed percentage (often 40%) of the total recovery. If the case is won or resolved, the lawyer's fee comes out of the recovery. If the case is lost, neither the client nor the lawyer get any money, and the client will not be required to pay the lawyer for the work that was done on the case.
Costs are an important part of the attorney-client fee arrangement. Many times clients will advance costs, like filing fees, deposition fees and expert fees. This is a matter of contract between the attorney and client.
Clients are often overwhelmed with the obstacles of retaining an attorney to recover inheritance or trust beneficiary assets. Contingency fees may be an efficient and effective step to overcoming these obstacles and allow for the civil prosecution of trusts and will contests. Experienced trust, probate and estate lawyers at Hackard Law are happy to discuss these potential arrangements with clients.
The simple truth is that winning many disputed estate litigation cases requires forward thinking, innovation and creativity. Contingency fee arrangements may be a part of a coordinated approach to resolution.
If you're facing a major probate conflict, a disputed heir contest, or recovery for trust beneficiary abuse, don't hesitate to call us to talk about your case. You can reach us at 916 313-3030.