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The Law Firm of Reed & Mansfield, Attorneys  Personal Injury & Property Damage, Las Vegas, NV

Funding Probate Costs

In most probate cases the costs (not including the attorneys' fees) to get started are not that big, typically under a $1000. These costs are filing fees, publication fees, etc. These are costs that we don't mind advancing if the client is not able to.

However, occasionally we encounter a probate situation where the costs to get started are quite large. For example, a person dies leaving as their only asset a home. The home is in a trust. Ordinarily, this wouldn't even be a probate case because the successor trustee of the trust would have the authority to deed the house to whoever was supposed to get it in the trust, or to sell the house and distribute the proceeds per the trust. But, occasionally, it happenes that none of the successor trustees can be found. This could be because all are dead. Now to get the house out of the trust we have to basically ask the Probate Court to give the house to whoever was supposed to get it in the trust and we have to prove to the Probate Court that no trustee can be located to do this instead of the Court. (In some cases it might be easy to show that all of the successor trustees are dead. If we know their social security numbers we can verify their death with the Social Security Administration.) But if we don't have their social security numbers, we might have to hire a genealogical research agency to prove that the successor trustees are dead. This could cost thousands of dollars. Very possibly the heirs don't have the money to pay for this and if the costs are going to be large compared to our fees, we are not keen to advance these costs.

Nevada allows companies to loan money to people with lawsuits at high rates of interest where the company's security is a lien against the lawsuit. In the context of personal injury litigation, these companies usually create more problems than the solve for these reasons;

  1. The better personal injury attorneys generally are willing to finance a case by advancing the money at no interest to the client. This is our practice. See our PI website: http://www.accidentawardslasvegas.com
  2. Once the client sucks money out of the case and then becomes obligated to pay a huge interest charge, it becomes hard to reach a settlement that gets all the client's liens and bills paid and leave something significant for the client.

However, such loan companies may have a useful role in the situation described above.

A different kind of funding situation comes up when the probate is contested and it is not clear whether a client will recover anything from the probate estate. Some attorneys do these contested cases on a contingency fee, usually one third. In such cases the lawyer would be expected to advance costs and then claim them back at then end of the probate.