How much is this going to cost? A short history of Illinois probate fees (Part 2)

If fee schedules are out, how are attorney’s fees in Illinois probate estates to be determined?  The Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility cites several factors that are to be considered in determining the reasonableness of any attorney’s fee. These include, (a) the time and labor required (b) the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved (c) the likelihood that acceptance of the assignment by the attorney precluded other employment (d) the amount involved and the results obtained (e) the experience and reputation of the attorney.  Illinois courts have held in the probate context that the most important of these elements is the number of hours worked on the assignment by the attorney.  Therefore, the most important evidence in a probate petition for attorney fees are the attorney’s time records indicating how much time was put in and the tasks accomplished.  The time records should be detailed with regard to the date and time expended and the nature of the task accomplished.  The time records will have more evidentiary value if they were kept contemporaneously with the work done (as opposed to reviewing the file at the end of the assignment and trying to compute the time expended). Read More