Whenever it is practical to do so, we prepare estate planning documents – wills, trusts, financial powers of attorney, and advance medical directives – for a fixed fee agreed upon in advance, as opposed to hourly billing. Our fees reflect (i) the value of the services provided, (ii) the level of expertise required, and (iii) the anticipated time and effort involved on our part. We usually are able to quote a fixed fee at the conclusion of our first meeting.
Basic services are what we provide to the majority of our estate planning clients. These services include: (i) review of the client’s current financial picture and estate planning documents, (ii) recommendation of a comprehensive estate plan, including suggestions as to changes in asset ownership and beneficiary designations, and (iii) preparation of the following documents for the client:
- Last Will and Testament
- Revocable Trust Agreement
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Advance Medical Directive (includes Medical Power of Attorney).
Some clients need estate planning services and document preparation that are beyond the scope of what we provide under Basic Services, but which are nevertheless common in our law practice and in our community. These include Special Needs Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, Limited Liability Companies (and associated Operating Agreements), Crummey Trusts (usually for a minor), and deeds changing the title to real estate. If we are unable to provide a fixed fee for these services, we will bill the client on an hourly basis, but will provide an estimate or a high-low fee range.
There are times when we will not be able to handle a matter on a fixed fee basis. In those circumstances, with the client’s consent, we will charge a fee based upon the hourly billing rate of the attorney or the paralegal assigned to the matter. Tom Nolan’s current hourly billing rate is $275 per hour. We generally do not involve our paralegals in the estate planning process.
Out of Pocket Costs
We often advance the costs of filing fees and overnight mail charges. We bill for these charges along with our fees. We do not seek to recover travel expenses within Charlottesville-Albemarle, long distance telephone charges, or routine photocopying.