Stephen Howard and the Canyons Law Firm provide estate planning services to clients all along the Wasatch Front, and throughout Utah. If you have questions about wills, trusts, probate, advance health care directives, powers of attorney, or other estate planning issues, please contact us today to arrange for an initial confidential consultation.
How expensive is it to use an estate planning attorney?
Sometimes the better question is not “how expensive will it be to use an attorney?” Instead, you may want to ask how costly it could be to not use an attorney. In some cases, using an attorney can actually end up saving you money and time, both now and in the long run. Consider the following real situation. (Names and details have been omitted to preserve client confidentiality.)
I recently had the opportunity to meet with a woman whose husband had passed away a few months earlier. I was originally contacted by an attorney with a law firm in another state, who told me that the woman needed to be appointed as the personal representative for her deceased husband’s estate so that the firm could release certain funds that it was holding on behalf of the husband’s estate.
The attorney with the other law firm informed me that the husband had died without any will (had died “intestate”), and that he had children from a prior relationship. Under Utah’s laws governing intestate succession, this would mean that the wife would be entitled to roughly one-half of her husband’s estate, and that the two children would share equally in the remaining one-half of the estate.
To have the wife appointed by the court as the personal representative of her husband’s estate, a formal probate action would be necessary. If uncontested, the probate action would require filing a petition for formal adjudication of intestacy. Court filing fees would have to be paid. Heirs who agreed with the appointment would each have to sign a waiver of notice. If heirs disagreed and filed an objection, court hearings could be required. The process could become lengthy and costly. This was the process upon which she was about to embark.
Instead, she decided to consult with me. After a few minutes talking on the phone, we decided to meet the next afternoon. We spent about an hour reviewing her situation, gathering information about her husband’s estate, his heirs, the nature of the issue in the other state that had brought about the involvement of the other law firm, and other relevant information.
By the end of our time together, we were able to determine that rather than filing a formal probate action, a small estates affidavit could be used to accomplish what needed to be done. I asked her to wait a few minutes while we put together the necessary paperwork. She signed the small estates affidavit, we had it notarized, then we scanned it and emailed a copy to the out-of-state law firm.
That was it. Problem solved.
By consulting with an attorney, she was able to save a substantial amount of money. (Even if she had filed the probate action on her own, without an attorney, just the filing fees would have been substantially more than what we charged her for our work.) And instead of the weeks or months that could have been required to go through the probate process, we were able to get her what she needed in just a little over an hour.
So, the next time someone tells you that using an attorney is just too expensive . . . consider what the costs of not using an attorney might be.
Contact a Utah Attorney at the Canyons Law Firm
The Canyons Law Firm is pleased to provide legal services to clients on Wasatch front, and throughout all of Utah. Contact us today to arrange for an initial attorney consultation, and learn what we can do to help you with your estate planning needs.