Legal Fees for Trust Funding After Death in California

Generally speaking one of the main reasons people get trusts is to REDUCE ATTORNEY FEES AFTER DEATH.  Yes, there are other benefits to a trust but this is one of the main reasons.  People want to avoid probate.  Sure probate takes 7 months minimum but beyond that it is costly… and most of that cost is attorney fees.  Thus, a living trust should reduce fees and costs after death. However, not all attorneys agree with that.  Sadly some attorneys use death as a money making opportunity. They use the confusion of a child who has lost a parent or the complete bewilderment of a widow who has never even written a check in their life to charge outrageous attorney fees.  As sad as this statement is it is the truth.

Successful attorneys make a fine living.  Successful attorneys make a fine living without gouging their clients. They make a fine living without preying on people who have just lost a loved one. However, for some that’s not enough.

Yesterday I was told of a situation I hear about a lot. It’s attorney who charge exorbitant fees after death for simple trust administration. Yes, some trust administration cases are difficult and cost thousands of dollars to clear up. Those cases would be ones where assets are not in the trust, where complex accountings are required or where there is fighting in general.  However, that’s the minority of cases.  Most trust cases are simple after death and attorney fees should be low to reflect that simplicity.

Yesterday I was told of an attorney that has preyed on a widow after her husband had a sudden death. Charges of $10,000 to administer an A/B trust at the first death. Sadly had they gone to an ethical attorney they might spend $1,000 to $2,000. From my understanding this attorney is not done yet! Hopefully the battered widow will listen to her advisors and find another attorney.

This case reminds me that you have to be careful when you choose an attorney. I am just a guy typing words here but I can tell you, from the bottom of my heart, that I was sickened when I heard this story yesterday. Absolutely sickened! I charge for my time, yes, but I never take advantage of my clients.  To me this behavior, that this other attorney has done, is criminal!

If you lose a loved one and need fair priced legal services, for a trust administration, please contact me to discuss your case.  -John

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