Contingency Fee Probate Litigation

Contingency Fee Probate Litigation in Jacksonville

Many of our clients often ask if the Jacksonville probate attorneys at The Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC will take a probate case on a contingency fee basis.  A contingency fee agreement is a type of agreement between the client and the attorney that states how the attorney is paid legal fees.  The attorney agrees to litigate a case and is only paid legal fees if the court distributes money or property to the client.  

This agreement can be beneficial for the client because there is less risk if the dispute is not successful.  The downside is that if the litigation is successful, then the client must pay the attorney a fixed percentage of the recovery.   Further, the client must pay any hard costs as they are incurred.  

Typically, the probate attorneys at this law firm will evaluate taking probate cases on a contingency basis in Florida when the matter involves a significant amount of money or property.  The percentage agreement can vary, but the attorneys will typically take these matters on for a fixed percentage between 33% and 40% of the client’s recovery.  If the case goes to an appeals court, then the fee can be as high as 45% to cover the additional legal fees and time.

When will a Jacksonville Probate Attorneys will take a case on a Contingency Fee?

Most firms that litigate probate and trust cases traditionally charge their clients an hourly fee.  However, our Jacksonville probate attorneys will consider a contingency fee agreement when a dispute would result in damages more than $500,000, and the facts support the client’s case.  

There are times where the issues and the facts do not support the client at first, and the client’s position does not support a contingency fee agreement initially.  However, the strength of the client’s case may change after the discovery process.  Discovery is when the plaintiff and the defendant exchange evidence, take testimony and begin to hire expert witnesses.  If discovery shows the client has a stronger case, then the client and the probate attorney can arrange for a new contingency fee agreement.  

A Probate Contingency  Fee Agreement Could be Beneficial to the Client

Probate litigation cases in Jacksonville or around Florida can take a long time to reach a conclusion.  There are many examples of probate cases that lasted for years before a judge gave his or her final ruling, or the parties agreed to settle the matter.  Many clients cannot afford to litigate a Jacksonville Probate case because of the years and expenses involved.  This is why many Jacksonville probate attorneys can offer differing types of fee arrangements. Without a contingency fee agreement on a Jacksonville Probate case, there are clients who would not have the resources to pursue their rights in a Probate.

A common type of case where a contingency fee agreement is appropriate is when a child is disinherited from a will or trust, and this person’s portion of the estate goes to a person not related to the decedent.  The will or trust may be invalid due to person’s undue influence over the decedent, and the child would take under a former will or through intestate succession.  In this scenario, it may be unlikely that the child has the means to take the issue to court unless a probate attorney agrees to take the case on a contingency.  

Contingency fee arrangements are also useful when a personal representative, trustee, or another fiduciary improperly administers the estate in a manner that violates the terms of the trust or will.  In Florida, these people in a position of power can be held personally liable by a probate court.

There are many reasons to pursue a case in a probate court.  The terms of the will or trust may be invalid, which would mean the decedent’s estate should pass by a previous will or by the laws of Florida.  A will or trust may be invalid if someone exerted undue influence over the decedent, and caused the decedent to change the document in a significant manner to benefit the third party. A will or trust could be subject to litigation if a person in power did not administer the documents correctly.  

Contact us today if you feel you have a probate issue that is ripe for litigation.  The probate attorneys at this law firm will work with you to get a fee arrangement that allows you to assert your rights when you have a claim.  For more information, contact The Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC today at 904-685-1200.