For your convenience, some common questions are answered right here.

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Q: Do you charge hourly or a flat fee?

A: It depends.  Bankruptcies, Estate Planning and business formation are usually a flat fee (there are some exceptions), Probates and guardianships are usually billed at an hourly rate. If I think I would be a $1,000 solution to a $500 problem, I will tell you up front not to hire me.

Q: What about pro bono?  That means free, right?

A: I provide pro bono services in certain limited circumstances, such as volunteering time through community legal services. “But I really need a lawyer!” is not a convincing reason for me to represent you for free, any more than “I really need the money!” is a convincing reason for a bank loan.  I enjoyed associating with clients who appreciate the Abraham Lincoln quote: “A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.”

Q: What is Probate?

A: Probate is an old fashioned term meaning “testing or proving of the Will.”  In a nutshell, it means the court process that allows the court to verify the Will is valid, that the person named as Personal Representative (a.k.a. executor) is willing and able, that certain notice requirements are met, and that the estate is properly valued and distributed in the proper order.  It involves filing lots of properly-filled-out papers with the court over a period of time (typically a minimum of 4-6 months, though some last for years).

Q:  Is there a minimum amount you have to owe before you can file bankruptcy?

A: No.  You can file bankruptcy to discharge a dollar’s worth of debt, but it doesn’t make sense to do that.  But if you owe more than what it would cost to file a bankruptcy, then maybe it makes sense.