How is An Attorney Compensated?


The actual costs and fees will depend upon the size of the estate, the nature of your assets, and the attorney that you retain to represent the estate. Additional issues may arise that could increase the cost of administration, including will contest, estate tax audits, or the transfer of difficult assets such as closely held family businesses, or out of state real estate. Attorneys will either charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the estate as their fee.

Additional Information on Statutory Fees

Lawyers charge fees for their services under three different formats.  They are hourly rates, fixed fee rates, and percentage of the estate rates.  Which structure is appropriate depends on a number of factors.  These factors include the identity of the beneficiaries, the complexity of the estate, the risk of will contest and litigation, the size of the estate, and whether it or some part of the estate will go through probate.  Generally, it is less expensive to administer an estate that does not go through Probate Court.

The State of Ohio created a fee guide line for Probate administration. Local courts also set fee guidelines, review fee applications, and handle fee disputes.  In general the fee guideline under Ohio law is:

  • 5.5% of the first $50,000
  • 4.5% of the next $50,000
  • 3% of the next $300,000
  • 2% of everything over $400,000
  • 1% of assets not going through Probate

When engaging an attorney for a probate matter get a clear understanding for how the attorney will be charging a fee, what is included in that fee, and what is not included and how that will be charged.  Many local Probate Courts require a written fee agreement.  It is good practice to have a written fee contract so there is no dispute which could hold up the distribution of the estate or cost the estate additional fees and time in sorting it all out.