{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Anyone have thoughts on what an ideal T & E practice should look like? Try to focus on high net worth clients who are willing to pay your hourly rate vs a higher volume practice charging flat fees? And how trust and estate administration and litigation should fit into your practice?", "post_id": "600602bf84162e001ca5b551", "reply_count": 3, "vote_count": 0, "bowl_id": "5e51d41aa3089e001bd0b304", "bowl_name": "Estate Planning Attorneys ", "feed_type": "bowl" }

Anyone have thoughts on what an ideal T & E practice should look like? Try to focus on high net worth clients who are willing to pay your hourly rate vs a higher volume practice charging flat fees? And how trust and estate administration and litigation should fit into your practice?

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I almost always charge a flat fee for trust/estate creation work. I don’t want a client not discussing planning options/language/etc. with me because the client is adverse to getting charged for each phone call or meeting. It’s important to have a retention agreement that solidly states what is and is not included in the agreement so you don’t get burned. Personally, my preference is to have fewer clients who pay more so I can really focus on their more complicated cases and not feel like I’m all over the place covering lots of different small client matters. But, realistically, it is a mix. I believe you have to have the mindset that there will be some cases that will eat more of your time than if you billed them hourly and there will be some that will be so easy you blink and they are done. So, with higher volume, it evens out.

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What does ideal mean to you? I think the Founding Partner above makes some great points about what an estates practice looks like, and you won’t be able to shoehorn yourself into deep pockets clients only without some serious chops and connections that let you turn away low net worth work. High net worth clients pay more, but are very demanding. Some might contact you anytime they want and ask for unreasonable things and refuse advice. What would you do then? Low net worth clients are often just happy to be inheriting something, or happy to make their estate plan finally. I charge the same price for every estate plan(will, poa, living will) and it more or less averages out to my billable rate times the time, but sometimes it’s 1/2 that much, sometimes it’s 2x or so. But building those relationships is a big part of local practice like estates work. You don’t just get to choose volume. If you’re starting your own shop, you need to be aware of the business side. Which is that - unless you are already set up with established book of estate planning or administration clients and matters - you will be taking every client who is willing to work with you at first.

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Thanks. By “ideal” I meant most profitable considering the amount of time working. I’m at a larger firm that only does work by the billable hour and sometimes feel like it might be easier and possibly more profitable to be drafting fairly basic documents and charging a flat fee working at a smaller shop with less overhead.

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