Flat Fee Billing

We generally bill our estate and business planning work on a flat fee basis rather than using hourly billing.  We use a flat fee for several reasons:

  • Hourly billing is open ended.  You have no idea how much the final bill is going to be.
  • With a flat fee, you don’t have to watch the clock when we are designing your plan; we can take the time necessary to think through all of the issues.
  • You don’t have to worry about how much it costs to call us with a question.
  • You can compare the value of our work with the flat fees of other attorneys.

We set our flat fee based on a number of factors.  The following are some factors that are considered.

We start by looking at the complexity of your planning.  The more complex your situation, the higher the fee.  If you have a blended family with two or three sets of children (his, hers and ours), your situation may (but not necessarily) be more complex than a family with only one set of children. If you have difficult tax questions in your planning, that can generate a higher fee. If there are challenging conflicts that can arise in settling your estate, more planning is needed and this will generate a higher fee.

We next look at the detail of the planning that you want.  Having detailed and personalized instructions is critical to having a plan that really works for you and your family. The more time and effort spent in designing and drafting your instructions, the higher the fee.

Please remember that you are not buying boilerplate documents from us.  You are paying for our knowledge, experience and more importantly, our wisdom.  You are also paying for our attention to detail.

After we discuss your situation and determine the level of complexity and detail necessary to prepare your plan, we will quote a flat fee.  You will logically ask yourself if you can get the same plan for less somewhere else.

The answer is both yes and no.  Yes, you can pay less.  But no, you probably can’t get the same quality plan for a similar price.  There are two ways that people typically try to pay less for an estate or business plan, neither of which can provide you and your family with the same quality plan.

First, you can buy computer software at the store or use online services that will provide you with boilerplate legal forms and fill in the blanks yourself.  The problem with this method is that you don’t know what you are getting. Not only do you not have the knowledge and experience to know if the forms themselves are legally sound, you don’t know what potential landmines are hidden in the boilerplate language.  Most people have found from experience that when they try to do specialized work ourselves—like plumbing or car repairs—they don’t get good results.  The same reasoning applies to estate and business planning.  For more information about why we believe using these types of “do-it-yourself” services to complete your estate plan is ill-advised, please see our blog post addressing the issue here.

Second, you can hire another attorney that charges less.  The problem with this method is that you don’t know what the other attorney is leaving out.  How is the other attorney charging less?  Do they have less experience?  Is the attorney going to spend less time designing your plan?  Is the attorney going to carefully review the plan with you to be sure it is what you want? Is the attorney going to help you fund your plan properly?

We have found from experience, and from reviewing many estate plans prepared by other attorneys, that you get what you pay for.  You may spend less with another attorney, but you are not going to get the same quality plan as the plan provided by our firm.