From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My mother named me the Personal Representative of her estate. I am happy to serve, but I have a family and a job, so I just don’t have the time to do all the work. I want to hire an estate attorney to help me, but I am unclear as to how they are paid. Do I have to pay the attorney from my own money?
Every Personal Representative in New Jersey has the right to hire an attorney to assist them. These attorneys are paid out of the estate’s funds, not out of the Personal Representative’s pocket. An experienced probate lawyer will have a staff available to economically help you with the probate process, the sale of estate assets and protecting you from personal liability. The fee agreement with your probate attorney can be either an hourly fee or a percentage of the estate. We charge an hourly rate rather than a percentage of the estate, which I find to be fairer than taking a percentage. (I find that a percentage is always either too large or too small.)