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Hi, this is Stewart Alberton with Albertson & Davidson and we’ve been discussing contingency fee agreements and the benefits, the advantages and disadvantages to entering into a contingency fee agreement. And I want to talk to you about one more benefit on the contingency fee agreement is the costs that your attorney agrees to pay while the case is going forward.
Now, most costs are not significant. They’re real money, but they’re not significant, such as the filing fees, fees to get a court reporter to do a deposition, subpoena fees. We’re talking ten, twenty, thirty thousand dollars in the life of a case. Maybe more, if it’s a bigger case, but it’s not going to be too much more than that.
But there is one set of costs that go really high, really fast in a trust and will case where lack of capacity or undue influence is an essential issue. And that has to do with hiring an expert. An expert in this case would be either a neurologist or a psychiatrist. Somebody that specializes in forensically going back and looking at medical records to determine if a decedent was, either they did lack capacity or where they subject to the exercise of undue influence.
These experts are very good people and so we’re not upset at them for how much they have to bill us, but we do want to point out that it is quite expensive to hire them. In many cases, it will be ten to fifteen thousand dollars just to hire them, and then, because they have so much education and experience, and it’s such a specialized area, they charge generally anywhere between four hundred and a thousand dollars an hour. And that time is spent reviewing medical records, coming to determine opinions. If a decedent did in fact lack capacity at the time a trust or will was created, or if the decedent was subject to the exercise of undue influence.
Sometimes you have to have more than one of these experts in a case. So let’s say that you hire a lawyer on a contingency fee agreement. Any trust and will contest where you have to hire one of these experts, and that expert bills out at say $40,000 for the life of the case. If you lose that case at the time of trial, which is a bad result for everyone and nobody hopes we lose, but if you do lose that case at the time of trial, the lawyer is the one that is stuck with the $40,000 bill. Not you, the client. So that’s just one more benefit of contingency fee agreements.