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Getting a Fee Quote Over the Phone

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Aug 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

It doesn't happen very often, fortunately, but every once in a while I get a call from an individual wanting me to prepare a particular document that he or she specifies by name.  The only concern the caller has is how much it is going to cost.  The caller is resistant to answering questions.

That is like calling a doctor and asking him or her to write out a prescription for a certain pharmaceutical but refusing to provide your medical history and symptoms and refusing to allow a physical examination.  Most doctors (the good ones anyway) will send you packing.  You see, doctors don't sell drugs (the good ones anyway); they sell diagnoses and advice.  And most doctors tailor that advice to your particular condition.

It's the same with lawyers. 

It is human nature to arrive at your doctor's or lawyer's office with some preconceived notions about what the outcome will be and the outcome that you want.  I know I do it all the time myself.  I walk into the doctor's office convinced I have this or that condition and I need this or that remedy.  The doctor pokes around and asks a lot of questions and arrives at a different conclusion and suggests different remedies than I had in mind, and I learned something new in the process.

And then there's the cost issue, expecting a fee quote over the phone.  That's like saying to a doctor, "I have a stomach ache.   How much will it cost to fix it?"  If a doctor quotes you a price over the phone, run as fast as you can! 

A proper answer would be, "I have no idea until I examine you, take a complete medical history, and maybe run some tests.  It could be just the fee for an office visit and some over-the-counter remedies.  Or you might need a remedy that requires a prescription.  But sometimes these things require surgery and/or radiation and/or chemotherapy.  It just depends.  Why not come in and let's take a look?"

Sound more reasonable, right?

It's the same with attorneys.  I can quote you a fee for a full consultation (this is like the doctor's office visit), but I cannot quote you a fee for the ultimate remedy over the phone.  It depends.

It depends on whether you are single or married, in a relationship or not in a relationship if you are single, whether or not you have children, whether those children have all the same parents, the circumstances of those children or, if you don't have children, your ultimate beneficiaries, your plan of distribution, whether you care about asset protection for yourself, whether you care about asset protection for your children/beneficiaries, whether you care about probate avoidance, how often you think you might want to change your estate plan in the future, the tax bases of your various holdings, whether you have a taxable estate, your asset mix, whether I need to stop everything I am doing and put a rush on your planning, and much, much more.

Why not come in and let's take a look?

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...

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