My sister died and her house that was trusted to her(she was a minor) is now divisible to her heirs, both parents alive and three half siblings from both her mom and dad's side (mom and dad divorced already). I know we need to get a trust lawyer because there are questionable parts of the irrevocable trust that we don't understand, and also because my sister's father has a lawyer and quite simply we don't trust him (he represented my former stepfather during a bitter 5 year custody battle over my sister). What do I need to look for in a trust lawyer? What kinds of questions should I ask? What is an average cost for this type of representation? Thank you.
3 Answers from Attorneys
Look for someone that concentrates primarily in trusts and estates work, including probate and trust litigation. Provide them with all of the documents and a case chronology summary of facts, names and addresses and the like in an organized manner. That will allow the attorney to most efficiently and effectively represent you and give advice. It's going to be really difficult for any attorney to give you a fee estimate without knowing a lot more facts. Most attorneys will charge an hourly rate for this type of work.
I'm very sorry to hear about your sister's death. Who would the lawyer be representing? Who is the trustee of your sister's trust?
The first thing the lawyer should do is to interpret the trust for you so you understand your rights, and the rights of the other people (beneficiaries) involved.
I agree with Mr. Gottlieb that any lawyer would charge an hourly fee for this work since at this time nobody can predict what amount of work/time will be required. Much depends on the people involved, the liklihood of a reasonable settlement, whether anyone is litigious, etc.
Please feel free to contact me for any follow-up questions.
Good luck to you.
Mr. Gottlieb and Ms. Trostin have provided fine answers to your questions. I add the following.
What do I need to look for in a trust lawyer?
--I would suggest a lawyer who ONLY practices in trusts, estates and related matters. (However, the attorney's firm may also handle many other types of matters.)
What kinds of questions should I ask?
--In the last five years, how often have you been involved in estates that have been "contested," i.e., an estate where an issue has been vigorously disputed among the parties involved?
What is an average cost for this type of representation?
--In Cook County, hourly rates may range from $200-$450 per hour, depending on a variety of factors.