Cook County Probate Attorneys Reda Ciprian Magnone Chicago

What's best for the client, not what's best for the attorney.


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


How much is this going to cost? A short history of Illinois probate fees (Part 1)

That question needs to be addressed with regard to every assignment a lawyer accepts.  The client deserves to know, or at least have a range of potential fee outcomes if the scope of the assignment is uncertain, and the lawyer has an ethical duty to inform the client about fees early on in the engagement.  Rule 1.5 (b) of the Illinois Code of Professional Responsibility, the code of conduct imposed by the Illinois Supreme Court on all attorneys in Illinois, states:

(b) The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate. Any changes in the basis or rate of the fee or expenses shall also be communicated to the client.

In the probate context, the Illinois Probate Act provides at Section 27-2(a):

…..the attorney for a representative is entitled to reasonable compensation for his services.

Sounds simple.  Logical.  Fair.  But the hard part is defining what is “reasonable”.

When I first started practicing in 1976, the probate fee question was much simpler.  The probate judges in Cook County used a fee schedule, based upon the size of the estate, to determine fees.  I still have my copy, though it is now dog-eared and yellowed.   In those days, the attorney’s fees in every estate were scrutinized and either approved or denied by the judge hearing the case.  I still can see a judge reviewing a Final Account showing my attorney’s fees, then opening a drawer in his desk to look at the fee schedule and doing some math on a pad on his desk and then looking at me and stating “Your Final Account is approved, Mr. Reda.  All fees of the attorney and the representative are approved.”  It was all simple math. Read More