Author Topic: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!  (Read 19014 times)

Mustache_In_Training

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Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« on: June 11, 2015, 07:42:24 AM »
TL;DR: My wife and I had a will made by a lawyer. Lawyer estimated an amount. Got bill in mail for 2.5 times more than estimated amount. Now I'm pissed. Is there anything I can do?

Longer version:

We met with a lawyer for an hour to discuss our estate planning documents. Later that night he sent us an email which summarized our discussion of what we wanted in our will. He gave us an estimate of $700 to $1,000. Based on what I found online, that is a reasonable price for a will, so we gave the okay to proceed. The following day, I was looking through the email more thoroughly and noticed he had a name spelled wrong and it would probably be a good idea to add any children we may have or adopt to the documents. He said he'll make the changes.

A week goes by, they tell us they have the documents ready to sign. We go in, sign all the documents and are done. I ask when will we receive the bill. They said they bill at the end of each month. Fast forward 2 months...(we sent several emails inquiring as to the whereabouts of this bill after the first month lapsed) Finally get the bill in the mail. I expect to see an amount around $1,000, however was shocked to read $2,500! What the hell!?

They had a summary of charges as follows:

  • 3/11: Meet with Mustache_In_Training to discuss preparation of will ______Lawyer we spoke to _________ 1 hr
  • 3/12: Begin preparing wills for Mustache_In_Training __________________Some lady I never met________3 hr
  • 3/13: Revise documents per Mustache_In_Training comments ___________Some lady I never met________1 hr
  • 3/14: Review draft of wills _______________________________________Lawyer we spoke to__________0.25 hr
  • 3/16: Revise documents _____________________________ ___________Some lady I never met________2 hr
  • 3/18: Prepare cover letter_____________________________ __________Some lady I never met________0.5 hr
  • 4/10: Attend to signing of documents_____________________________ _Lawyer we spoke to__________0.75 hr

Rate for both people was $295/hour. Total $2,507.50

I don't know if I should just bend over and take this? Do I have a choice? I would have liked some warning if they knew we had far surpassed the estimated amount by 2.5 times! Had they provided me an estimate of $2,500, I would have laughed and found someone else. I feel like a victim of switch and bait. I restrained myself from sending an email last night, I wanted to cool off and gather feedback from smart people (yourselves).

YTProphet

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2015, 07:49:13 AM »
I'm a lawyer. That middle set of 2 hr revisions is b.s. as is charging you .5 hours to prepare a cover letter. In fact, lawyers shouldn't be charging you for non-legal work like that. That junior associate is clearly padding the bill. I'd be pissed. I think $2000 is a fair price.

shotgunwilly

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2015, 08:01:07 AM »
I wouldn't pay it. Negotiate a lower price closer to the quote you received.

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2015, 08:18:00 AM »
I'm a lawyer. That middle set of 2 hr revisions is b.s. as is charging you .5 hours to prepare a cover letter. In fact, lawyers shouldn't be charging you for non-legal work like that. That junior associate is clearly padding the bill. I'd be pissed. I think $2000 is a fair price.

How should I tell him that eloquently? I drafted an email last night, but I hesitate to send it. Here is what I planned to send, feel free to critique:

Dear Mr. Lawyer,

We received the bill (Invoice No. XXX) in the mail today for the estate planning documents. We were both shocked to see such a large amount owed. In our previous correspondence, you estimated an amount between $750 and $1,000. The amount billed was 2.5 times greater than the maximum estimated amount at $2,507.50.
 
I have to assume the amount billed is a mistake. If not, why were we not notified that the original estimate was no longer valid and we were going to far surpass that amount? I feel that our estate planning documents are routine in nature and should not have required $1,507.50 over and above what you originally quoted.

We will pay the amount we originally agreed upon, a maximum of $1,000. Had you provided an estimate of $2,500 we would have gone elsewhere, as that is outrageous for estate planning documents. We were referred to you by _person_ and felt comfortable with you to prepare our important documents. Our trust has been violated and we feel cheated by this bait and switch tactic of estimating one amount and then billing in excess of 2.5 times that amount.

Respectfully,

Mustache_In_Training



snuggler

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2015, 08:20:56 AM »
Definitely raise this, and specifically mention that the cost is over 3x what he quoted you. Did you sign an agreement with him? If so, it might talk about an estimated budget or what will happen when the cost exceeds the estimate. If it does, I'd raise this with him as well.

Lawyers are heavily dependent on their reputations, so they should be open to negotiating this with you. And if they don't, consider giving fair warning to other potential customers via Yelp and Avvo.

I'd call him instead of writing this email, and try to avoid the bait-and-switch language initially. He may be very open to reducing the amount, and may not even know the bill went out this way. Every firm operates differently, and every attorney in a firm may not know what the bill looks like before it goes out to the client.

YTProphet

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2015, 08:29:24 AM »
I'm a lawyer. That middle set of 2 hr revisions is b.s. as is charging you .5 hours to prepare a cover letter. In fact, lawyers shouldn't be charging you for non-legal work like that. That junior associate is clearly padding the bill. I'd be pissed. I think $2000 is a fair price.

How should I tell him that eloquently? I drafted an email last night, but I hesitate to send it. Here is what I planned to send, feel free to critique:


It all depends on what the revisions were. Some revisions can be very involved and equate to entirely redrafting documents. Did you just ask him to swap a named beneficiary and correct a spelling error or did you completely rework the entire mechanics of the estate? Sometimes clients are very high maintenance or indecisive and that can cause a lot of extra work. Were you that type? What did you ask to be changed in the document between the initial consultation and the end? Would those changes take 2 hours of work?
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 08:41:56 AM by YTProphet »

CommonCents

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2015, 08:33:19 AM »
I would strike the last paragraph of your letter.  You can always go for the hard approach, but you can't back off and start nicer again.

Agree that the cover letter should not have been done by the associate but rather a secretary.  (BTW, it's common to have an associate do the work different from the lawyer you met, who usually is a higher rate.  It's just odd they are the same rate.)  Based on the bill rate, I agree about $2k would be more reasonable, which makes me wonder what happened here to be off from the estimate - if usually a lower billed associate does the work but didn't in this case.

And yes, can you be more specific about your revisions?  Looking at the two drafts can you see what changed between them?  A rework or adding a line?

thurston howell iv

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2015, 08:53:03 AM »
I would chat with the Lawyer. Obviously, it's an error (giving him the benefit of the doubt) and you're giving him notice so that he can correct it. Be nice.

If he balks, a mention of a Bar Complaint, will usually have an attorney's attention.

Midwest

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2015, 08:58:49 AM »
I'm a lawyer. That middle set of 2 hr revisions is b.s. as is charging you .5 hours to prepare a cover letter. In fact, lawyers shouldn't be charging you for non-legal work like that. That junior associate is clearly padding the bill. I'd be pissed. I think $2000 is a fair price.

How should I tell him that eloquently? I drafted an email last night, but I hesitate to send it. Here is what I planned to send, feel free to critique:

Dear Mr. Lawyer,

We received the bill (Invoice No. XXX) in the mail today for the estate planning documents. We were both shocked to see such a large amount owed. In our previous correspondence, you estimated an amount between $750 and $1,000. The amount billed was 2.5 times greater than the maximum estimated amount at $2,507.50.
 
I have to assume the amount billed is a mistake. If not, why were we not notified that the original estimate was no longer valid and we were going to far surpass that amount? I feel that our estate planning documents are routine in nature and should not have required $1,507.50 over and above what you originally quoted.

We will pay the amount we originally agreed upon, a maximum of $1,000. Had you provided an estimate of $2,500 we would have gone elsewhere, as that is outrageous for estate planning documents. We were referred to you by _person_ and felt comfortable with you to prepare our important documents. Our trust has been violated and we feel cheated by this bait and switch tactic of estimating one amount and then billing in excess of 2.5 times that amount.

Respectfully,

Mustache_In_Training

Having been the recipient of the occasional bill complaint (all professionals get them), I'd take out the last 2 paragraphs and attach the correspondence where he quoted you $1000.  I'd add a polite non-accusatory paragraph offering that you are surprised at the increase over the bid without communication and request he explain. 

If I were him one of two things would happen depending on the circumstances a) I would knock the bill down to $1000 an apologize for the error or b) I would explain the original quote was $1000 but as we discussed.....and communicated.....the scope changed.....  I typically have e-mails or engagement to back myself up when the scope changes in order to avoid these issues.  Even if he has the backup, he may still give you a discount to keep you happy.  I'd certainly consider it.  I'd be much more likely to consider it if you started a conversation versus an attack.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 09:03:19 AM by Midwest »

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2015, 09:02:01 AM »
It all depends on what the revisions were. Some revisions can be very involved and equate to entirely redrafting documents. Did you just ask him to swap a named beneficiary and correct a spelling error or did you completely rework the entire mechanics of the estate? Sometimes clients are very high maintenance or indecisive and that can cause a lot of extra work. Were you that type? What did you ask to be changed in the document between the initial consultation and the end? Would those changes take 2 hours of work?

I don't consider myself to be high maintenance in any sense of the word. We didn't request anything special, none of "this item goes to billy and this item goes to bob, etc." Simply "beneficiary gets all our shit." The revision request was to add children we may have (no kids yet) to be our first beneficiary. If no kids, then it would go to niece and nephew. Other than that one change, we noticed a typo on a name. That's it.

I don't have the drafts in front of me to compare, but I can't imagine adding an additional beneficiary required extensive rework of the entire document. I don't recall signing any upfront agreement, as most of the communication was done through email. He phrased it like, "by replying to this email you agree to our (unstated) financial terms".

I appreciate all the feedback so far, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he has no knowledge of how this was billed. We'll give him a call to express our concern.

P.S. The ONLY change/revision we requested was made on 3/12, which then corresponds to the revisions made on 3/13. I have no idea what revisions were made on 3/16, it sounds like the lawyer found mistakes and the other associate corrected them.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 09:05:01 AM by Mustache_In_Training »

Mustache_In_Training

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2015, 09:11:36 AM »
  I'd be much more likely to consider it if you started a conversation versus an attack.

Noted. Thanks, I will be nice. I forget I'm dealing with a professional. I'm used to dealing with customer service, where if you want something fixed you have to be upfront about your demands.

MrsPete

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2015, 09:16:28 AM »
This is insane. 

Last summer my husband and I had will written up through our credit union -- we did have to wait for the lawyer, who travels from place to place in the state doing this very thing, to make it to our town, but he wrote us each three documents:  A will, a living will, and a power of attorney. 

Did we pay $250 or $300?  Either way, it's a pittance of what you're talking about.  Our experience was much like yours:  Met to discuss what we wanted, he asked quite a few questions that we had to go home and discuss, when we got together again we put together the documents.   

Midwest

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2015, 09:17:05 AM »
  I'd be much more likely to consider it if you started a conversation versus an attack.

Noted. Thanks, I will be nice. I forget I'm dealing with a professional. I'm used to dealing with customer service, where if you want something fixed you have to be upfront about your demands.

Believe me, it's taken me years to learn that. 

mandy_2002

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Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2015, 09:19:45 AM »

    • 3/13: Revise documents per Mustache_In_Training comments ___________Some lady I never met________1 hr

    Rate for both people was $295/hour. Total $2,507.50


    It looks like the only time spent on the revisions was this 1 hour.  To me, that means that even if your scope change significantly impacted the cost, it should only be $295 more than the initial estimate.  If this were me, I would *possibly* accept this as fair, and say that $1295 is my max cost. 

    Bicycle_B

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #14 on: June 11, 2015, 09:30:01 AM »
    I really like the comments from Midwest and Mandy2002.

    I've had legal work done over the last 3 years.  Rates of $295/hour for your top attorney are not crazy.  However, I've heard quotes of $400 for simple wills and have not seen much higher bills.  A friend of mine got hers done for $400.  I can imagine $700 to $1,000 for a couple but agree that the final bill was way too high. 

    Also agree about starting gentle.  You can save mentioning a possible bar complaint for later, if you don't get satisfaction on the first and second try.

    geekette

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #15 on: June 11, 2015, 09:32:19 AM »
    Wow.  Just wow.

    My DH and I had wills written up last summer (referral from a MMM member).  He emailed us some questions, we emailed back, he wrote up the wills, met us at Panera, we signed.  $300, including basic Health Care POA. 

    Kerowyn

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #16 on: June 11, 2015, 09:33:25 AM »
    I would definitely be sure to ask what caused the huge increase from the estimate to the actual bill. Ask for specifics.

    Also, just to be very precise:

    We received the bill (Invoice No. XXX) in the mail today for the estate planning documents. We were both shocked to see such a large amount owed. In our previous correspondence, you estimated an amount between $750 and $1,000. The amount billed was 2.5 times greater than the maximum estimated amount at $2,507.50.

    It's not 2.5 times greater than the amount, it's 2.5 times the amount (or 1.5 times greater than the amount). I wouldn't expect the lawyer to quibble over this when it's clear what you actually mean, but you never know.

    If you're going to discuss this over the phone, it may be helpful to take notes and later send an email saying "this is my understanding of our discussion, please let me know if you disagree." That way there's a paper trail in case of a worst case scenario.

    LibrarIan

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #17 on: June 11, 2015, 10:11:14 AM »
    Wow.  Just wow.

    My DH and I had wills written up last summer (referral from a MMM member).  He emailed us some questions, we emailed back, he wrote up the wills, met us at Panera, we signed.  $300, including basic Health Care POA. 

    Seconded on the $300. $2k is crazy! My wife and I met with a lawyer in our local area, filled out the necessary forms, signed PoA documents and all that jazz and had our wills witnessed and finalized for $300 even. Cannot believe someone would charge you this much.

    abiteveryday

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #18 on: June 11, 2015, 10:15:22 AM »
    I paid $250 to have all this done, and I'm in an expensive coastal city.   That is just plain robbery.

    I'm a red panda

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #19 on: June 11, 2015, 11:10:46 AM »
    That is crazy. I think it is good to remember that when getting an estimate you should also get in writing that you will be notified about changes to the estimate!

    I worked with a lawyer after a car accident, and I am so glad I was not billed hourly- because every time he sent correspondence to me that he was going to be sending out, it was riddled with typos and I sent it back to him proofread.   Maybe I should have sent an hourly bill for my time. The cut of my settlement he got, surely he could have done a spelling and grammar check.

    Argyle

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #20 on: June 11, 2015, 11:18:31 AM »
    Also, correcting the typo is on them you shouldn't have to pay for the time they spent fixing the mistake they shouldn't have made in the first place.

    Mustache_In_Training

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #21 on: June 11, 2015, 11:19:30 AM »
    Update: Email sent. I was polite and only questioned what caused the amount to increase in a sincere manner. Now the ball is in his court, we'll see where he takes it!

    P.S. You guys with your <$300 wills are not making me feel any better! :)

    Numbers Man

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #22 on: June 11, 2015, 11:23:29 AM »
    If a mechanic wanted to charge me 2.5X of the estimate he gave me, I'm pretty sure I would snap.  Just because this guy wears a suit, that doesn't make it any less sleazy.  So he was either incompetent in giving that estimate, or he was duplicitous.

    ^ Exactly. I had a will done for $150 in 1989 which is still in force. I guess there's been a lot of inflation since 1989.

    Midwest

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #23 on: June 11, 2015, 11:23:54 AM »
    Update: Email sent. I was polite and only questioned what caused the amount to increase in a sincere manner. Now the ball is in his court, we'll see where he takes it!

    P.S. You guys with your <$300 wills are not making me feel any better! :)

    If it makes you feel better, I don't know how a will of any complexity is getting drafted for $300.  That's an hour and a half at $200 an hour.  Around here (low cost of living area), it's going to be $500 to $1000.


    ltt

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #24 on: June 11, 2015, 11:48:58 AM »
    Sorry, my husband and I very recently had our wills done, POAs for health care, and living will and it was a fraction of what your attorney is charging and, yes, less than $300 that the others have mentioned.  We also had a trust portion included.  Lawyers use templates to really streamline the entire process.

    CommonCents

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #25 on: June 11, 2015, 11:54:08 AM »
    Update: Email sent. I was polite and only questioned what caused the amount to increase in a sincere manner. Now the ball is in his court, we'll see where he takes it!

    P.S. You guys with your <$300 wills are not making me feel any better! :)

    If it makes you feel better, I don't know how a will of any complexity is getting drafted for $300.  That's an hour and a half at $200 an hour.  Around here (low cost of living area), it's going to be $500 to $1000.

    +1

    Ricky

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #26 on: June 11, 2015, 12:18:26 PM »
    This whole process seems very outdated and antiquated in my opinion. Would LegalZoom not accomplish the same thing?

    How could it possibly take almost 9 hours to draft a routine document? I don't need to be a lawyer to plug in words. Sounds absolutely ludicrous.

    CommonCents

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #27 on: June 11, 2015, 12:23:04 PM »
    This whole process seems very outdated and antiquated in my opinion. Would LegalZoom not accomplish the same thing?

    How could it possibly take almost 9 hours to draft a routine document? I don't need to be a lawyer to plug in words. Sounds absolutely ludicrous.

    A lot of the legal forms online have errors.  Furthermore, state law varies and often people use forms that don't take their state laws into consideration.

    That said, if it was routine as the OP asserts, it shouldn't have been 9 hours.  I think the lawyers on here generally agree on that end.  But don't forget to allocate time to explain, ask questions of the OP as to how they want to distribute their assets (and pose questions such as "what if your child predeceases you?  Do you want the money split between your other children or do you want your child's children to inherit it?"), and meet for the signing as well.  It's not all just drafting the document.

    Midwest

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #28 on: June 11, 2015, 12:35:02 PM »
    This whole process seems very outdated and antiquated in my opinion. Would LegalZoom not accomplish the same thing?

    How could it possibly take almost 9 hours to draft a routine document? I don't need to be a lawyer to plug in words. Sounds absolutely ludicrous.

    I'm not a lawyer either and legal zoom is sometimes appropriate.  However, you are paying professionals for advice in addition to the document.  For example, does your estate plan need a trust?  Minor children?  Other issues you haven't thought of?

    I've drafted several legal documents for myself using templates.  Depending on the complexity, I may have an attorney review them.  An estate plan isn't one I would tackle myself and I'm more saavy in this area than most non-attorneys.

    For them to meet, advise and draft a fairly simple estate plan, I can't imagine it being done in less than 2 or 3 hours.  The meeting alone will take 30 minutes to an hour if they are asking any sort of questions.  If you are mustachian and have significant assets, they will save you estate much more than they will cost.  Probate and litigation are both fairly expensive.
    « Last Edit: June 11, 2015, 12:39:24 PM by Midwest »

    thedayisbrave

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #29 on: June 11, 2015, 03:35:42 PM »
    Wow.  Just wow.

    My DH and I had wills written up last summer (referral from a MMM member).  He emailed us some questions, we emailed back, he wrote up the wills, met us at Panera, we signed.  $300, including basic Health Care POA. 

    Seconded on the $300. $2k is crazy! My wife and I met with a lawyer in our local area, filled out the necessary forms, signed PoA documents and all that jazz and had our wills witnessed and finalized for $300 even. Cannot believe someone would charge you this much.

    Yep... had my will done in 2013 and I believe I paid $500 total.  That included initial consultation, the document, review and editing (after I gave her more info she needed), and final signing.  So not $300, but also not $2,500.  $2,500 is highway robbery.

    Mustache_In_Training

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #30 on: June 11, 2015, 04:49:31 PM »
    Update: Lawyer responded. "Recognizing the estimates, and the amount of time actually expended, I had adjusted the time and billing to $1,500 - I don't know why that was not captured by our billing department in issuing the statement. I am sorry for the shock of receiving the $2500 charge.

    Please let me know if the adjustment will be acceptable. Thank you and again, I regret our error." - Lawyer

    So, we instantly saved $1,000. Should I press for $1,000 or accept the new improved $1,500 price?

    dilinger

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #31 on: June 11, 2015, 04:57:12 PM »
    Better call Saul!

    Sorry, I couldn't help myself. :)

    snuggler

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #32 on: June 11, 2015, 05:13:04 PM »
    I'd ask for $250 more to be cut, to meet in the middle. It sound like there is more wiggle room, and I think that's fair given the original estimate.

    trailrated

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #33 on: June 11, 2015, 05:32:18 PM »
    My Uncle called to negotiate down a lawyer bill and was charged for the phone call. Not going to lie, it made me laugh.

    Ricky

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #34 on: June 11, 2015, 05:44:21 PM »
    Sounds like there is still room to negotiate - so I wouldn't a pay penny over $1k. They admitted to their (or team's) mistake and already made an arbitrary counter. You have nothing to lose by insisting on $1k.

    G-dog

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #35 on: June 11, 2015, 06:15:22 PM »
    I work with attorneys and law firms everyday!
    Yes, this is out of line. Remember that lawyers are supposed to hold themselves to a very high ethical bar as per state and federal laws and their Bar Association(s). Reporting them to the bar is a significant threat.
    Use the documents you have tracking your agreement/expectations. But a verbal contract is binding as well, but written documents are always better. If your estate or will is particularly complicated, then a higher cost may be justified, but given what some other folks are noting, this seems less likely.
    Did you
    I s/he needed to consults someone, that should have been cleared with you.
    When the bill started moving significantly above the quote, they should have contacted you for authorization.
    You needed to pester them for the bill, ridiculous!

    You were willing to pay $1000. You can think about sending them a check for $1000 with "paid in full" in the subject line, and/or a cover letter (and copy of the estimate ) stating as per the written estimate here is out oapyment in full for services rendered.

    Keep all your documents, they can opt to take you to small claims court or a collection agency - have the documents to counter these moves. Judges do not look kindly upon lawyers that misbehave. Even collection agencies will back off when the proof is on your side (I did not authorize any extra charges beyond the estimate).


    briefus

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #36 on: June 11, 2015, 09:14:53 PM »
    That's outrageous, like others have stated on here, $300 to $500 will pretty much cover anything that's not overly complicated. 95% of what needs to be put in a will isn't complicated, and 99% of people who think they need something complicated, probably don't.

    LDoon

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #37 on: June 11, 2015, 09:39:39 PM »
    Lawyer's opinion here...

    You were correct to send a general email asking about the difference between estimate and initial bill.  $2500 vs. $1000 is too much.  However, the knock-down to $1500 seems reasonable to me.  It's the revisions (adding kids, potential kids) that caused the increase.  You'd be amazed by the invoice difference between a client that provides all information up-front with the client that later wants something different.  It often involves re-writing forms or an additional review, vs. starting with the correct template. 

    Yes, a 50% increase over estimate is a lot.  But you asked for more than fixing an address.  You asked for additional clauses, and for the review to confirm that the will read correctly with the additional clauses. 

    This is an important document to dictate the allocation of your assets.  It's worth it to have written correctly versus LegalZoom or some other disinterested party. 

    LDoon

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #38 on: June 11, 2015, 09:47:16 PM »
    Quote
    You were willing to pay $1000. You can think about sending them a check for $1000 with "paid in full" in the subject line, and/or a cover letter (and copy of the estimate ) stating as per the written estimate here is out oapyment in full for services rendered.

    Keep all your documents, they can opt to take you to small claims court or a collection agency - have the documents to counter these moves. Judges do not look kindly upon lawyers that misbehave. Even collection agencies will back off when the proof is on your side (I did not authorize any extra charges beyond the estimate).

    With respect to this statement, you would easily lose in small claims court.  It's an estimate only, plus you've stated that changes were requested, and thus a high bill is expected. 

    The lawyer might take the "paid in full" check, but only b/c it's not worth fighting over $500 (for him or you).  And by the way, if you do fight it in court, you've just lost your lawyer.

    Holding a client to estimates works when there is a work history.  Expectations are understood and agreed to.  But a one-off client with a will to be drafted is not even close to that.  You have no leverage, nor expectation of maintaining an estimated bill when adding provisions.




    G-dog

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #39 on: June 12, 2015, 05:05:46 AM »
    Lawyer's opinion here...

    You were correct to send a general email asking about the difference between estimate and initial bill.  $2500 vs. $1000 is too much.  However, the knock-down to $1500 seems reasonable to me.  It's the revisions (adding kids, potential kids) that caused the increase.  You'd be amazed by the invoice difference between a client that provides all information up-front with the client that later wants something different.  It often involves re-writing forms or an additional review, vs. starting with the correct template. 

    Yes, a 50% increase over estimate is a lot.  But you asked for more than fixing an address.  You asked for additional clauses, and for the review to confirm that the will read correctly with the additional clauses. 

    This is an important document to dictate the allocation of your assets.  It's worth it to have written correctly versus LegalZoom or some other disinterested party.

    Can you clarify why, when the work started to FAR exceed the estimate, the attorney felt no obligation to contact the client? Or even respond when receiving the changes that this means it will cost more (a LOT more apparently)?
    This isn't intended as fuel, but an honest question of what is considered standard practice, best practices, and bad practice. i work with outside counsel in a corporate setting - so we have leverage (and agreements/standing orders/expectations/etc.) if they want to keep our business. But we still find plenty of attempts to overcharge us - but there has been HUGE pushback on law firms to reduce costs, lots of corp clients are way more price sensitive than they used to be, at least in some practice areas.

    markbrynn

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #40 on: June 12, 2015, 06:27:27 AM »
    Quote
    Yes, a 50% increase over estimate is a lot.  But you asked for more than fixing an address.  You asked for additional clauses, and for the review to confirm that the will read correctly with the additional clauses. 

    This is an important document to dictate the allocation of your assets.  It's worth it to have written correctly versus LegalZoom or some other disinterested party.

    I'm not sure what the language of the estimate was, but I absolutely do not believe that any company should get away with overshooting their estimate without first informing the customer of the impending overrun. This goes for auto-mechanics, electricians, plumbers, waiters, etc.

    What if the person had a fixed budget for the service they were purchasing? $1000 (maximum) was within their budget, but $1500 isn't. Can a lawyer (or any service provider) just spend the client's money without warning them?

    By the way, this has happened to me once or twice before. I refused to pay (above the estimate) and  the company every time they sent me a letter. Eventually they dropped it. I now make it very clear to everyone that I work with that I want to know if the costs are going over the estimate. Nobody has a problem with doing it (which is why I think the people who pull this trick are dishonest and not making mistakes).

    TimmyTightWad

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #41 on: June 12, 2015, 06:39:35 AM »
    What is a good way to find a lawyer to do this for me? Any recommendations for lawyers in the $300 price range in the Philadelphia area?

    Jack

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #42 on: June 12, 2015, 06:52:59 AM »
    The original estimate was not "$1000." It was "$700-$1000." Because of that, I think it's reasonable to believe that the requested change should move the cost from $700 to $1000, not from $1000 to $1500!

    By the way, do routine things like wills really require a fancy senior-lawyer charging $295/hour? I've very rarely needed the services of a lawyer, but I would (perhaps naively) expect a junior associate who recently passed the bar to do a perfectly satisfactory job for a two-digit hourly rate.

    Midwest

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #43 on: June 12, 2015, 07:02:24 AM »
    The original estimate was not "$1000." It was "$700-$1000." Because of that, I think it's reasonable to believe that the requested change should move the cost from $700 to $1000, not from $1000 to $1500!

    By the way, do routine things like wills really require a fancy senior-lawyer charging $295/hour? I've very rarely needed the services of a lawyer, but I would (perhaps naively) expect a junior associate who recently passed the bar to do a perfectly satisfactory job for a two-digit hourly rate.

    The original estimate didn't involve making client requested changes.  Junior associates aren't 2 digits. 

    I'd respond saying although the discount is appreciated, I would appreciate an explanation as to why the original estimate was exceeded.  My suspicion is it will be related to the client requested changes.

    Midwest

    Mustache_In_Training

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #44 on: June 12, 2015, 07:17:44 AM »
    Additional update, wrote him back:

    Dear Mr. Lawyer,

    Thank you so much for assisting with the billing. Given that the estimate was a range between $750 and $1000, I had assumed there was flexibility to accommodate minor revisions to the document. I understand the revision we asked for may have required work beyond the original scope of the estimate. However, my wife and I had only budgeted $1,000 for these documents. Could we agree to meet in the middle at $1,250? That amount is not well beyond the original estimate and hopefully is satisfactory for you and your firm.

    Best Regards,

    Mustache_In_Training

    YTProphet

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #45 on: June 12, 2015, 07:23:00 AM »
    What is a good way to find a lawyer to do this for me? Any recommendations for lawyers in the $300 price range in the Philadelphia area?
    As a lawyer, let me just give a word of caution. You get what you pay for. I think you'd be better served using LegalZoom than paying someone $300.

    DoNorth

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #46 on: June 12, 2015, 07:25:22 AM »
    that's really bad.  I've had several wills done for my wife and I; we use the military legal office so its free, but in no case, has will preparation for both of us ever exceeded an hour.  We have two children, a few properties, decent assets etc., and did advanced medical directives, burial instructions, powers of attorney etc. each time so not really complex, but no too simple either.  I would contest it and don't let them strong arm you just because they're a law firm.

    WhatIsFrugalAfterAll

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #47 on: June 12, 2015, 07:39:41 AM »
    Lawyers are always a painful use of money. The flip side is your potentially save your heirs much grief down the road.

    ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #48 on: June 12, 2015, 10:04:34 AM »
    What's the old phrase?  Never get in an argument with a crazy person because after a while, people won't be able to tell which one is the crazy person.  I butchered that terribly, but hopefully you see my point.

    Don't wrestle with a pig, you'll both get muddy and the pig will enjoy it?

    Numbers Man

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    Re: Had a will made.. Just got the bil, holy ****!
    « Reply #49 on: June 12, 2015, 12:08:52 PM »
    Update: Lawyer responded. "Recognizing the estimates, and the amount of time actually expended, I had adjusted the time and billing to $1,500 - I don't know why that was not captured by our billing department in issuing the statement. I am sorry for the shock of receiving the $2500 charge.

    Please let me know if the adjustment will be acceptable. Thank you and again, I regret our error." - Lawyer

    So, we instantly saved $1,000. Should I press for $1,000 or accept the new improved $1,500 price?

    I love this response from the Lawyer. When everybody fucks up they usually seem to blame the bean counters.