The Costs of Probate
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.
Please view Low Fees for Uncontested Nevada Probate for more information on our fees.
Occasionally we encounter a probate situation where the costs to get started are quite large.
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 happens that none of the successor trustees can be found. This could be because all are deceased.
Or, suppose the trust document is lost.
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 or probate proceedings 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;
- 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 Personal Injury website. But, lawyers are prohibited by the state bar from loaning money to clients for their personal expenses while waiting for an expected pay out from a lawsuit or probate proceeding.
- 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 and this gives the client less incentive to cooperate in the court proceeding.
However, such loan companies may have a useful role in the situation where the client is willing to pay a high interest rate on part of their expected payout. Our firm has occasionally worked with such loan companies when the client was involved in a car accident or suffered some other personal injury, but to date we have never worked with a client who took out a high interest loan in anticipation of a probate payout.
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.