Did you see an add running with the phrase “$1,199 Flat Fee Probate?”
If so, beware. It is a scam that is running in Houston.
If you call the number, you’ll be connected to a marketing firm that will take your information and, if they cannot sell you legal forms, then pass you off to a probate attorney in Houston who will charge more than $1,199.
A probate case in Houston cannot be handled for $1,199. Let me explain.
Let’s start with the filing fees and costs for a probate case in Houston. Here is how the costs break down for a probate case in Houston:
Thus, the filing and related costs range from $381 to $1,460. That is before the probate attorney who is quoting $1,199 is paid a single dollar.
If you do the math, you’ll see that at $1,199 the probate attorney would only make a maximum fee of $818 per case. In some cases, he would lose $539 having just paid the fees associated with the case.
But what if the $1,199 flat fee doesn’t include these costs (even though the advertisement suggests that it does)? Let’s work with that.
Even the most efficient probate attorney will take 15-20 hours for a typical probate case. This time is to prepare the court filings and documents, post and/or send notice to beneficiaries and/or creditors, and prepare for and attend at least one court hearing.
So the $1,199 attorneys fee is divided by 15 hours, the probate attorney will make $79 per hour. Do you know any attorney who works for $79 an hour? According to the Houston probate courts, the going rate for court appointed probate attorney work in Houston ranges from $200 an hour to $450 an hour. Even the rate for paralegals is $75 to $125.
Back to our $1,199 flat fee attorney. If he is working your probate case, what incentive would he have to work your case versus the court appointed cases that pay more than double what you are paying? If work needs to be done on a case, whose case is the attorney going to work first–yours or the one that pays more?
But again, if you call the $1,199 flat fee attorney, you’ll find that he will actually quote a higher fee on the phone than in the advertisement. The $1,199 flat fee in the advertisement is just to get you to call him. Is that the kind of probate attorney you want to hire?
We base our fees on an estimate of the amount of work it will take to handle your probate matter. We do this after discussing the facts and circumstances of your case with you. After this free analysis, we will tell you what our fee is and how we came up with the amount of the fee.
If you need help with a probate matter in Houston-metro area or the surrounding communities, we want to hear from you.
Please give us a call us at 281-219-9090 to see how we can help.