Service Engagement Agreement

The Service Engagement Agreement (the “Agreement”) provided by The Law Office of Jeffrey L. Bloomfield, PLLC, a North Carolina Professional Limited Liability Company doing business as Carolina Estate Planning (the “Firm”) represent the terms by which the Firm will provide legal services to you (the “Client”) and the scope of services that the Firm will render, as well as the manner of billing and collecting legal fees and costs associated with the proposed representation.

You agree to be bound by the terms of this Service Engagement Agreement by checking the box labeled “I have read and accept the Service Engagement Agreement,” on the legal services checkout page (https://www.carolinaestateplanning.com/checkout) of the Carolina Estate Planning Website and then clicking or otherwise pressing the “Place Order” button on that webpage. 

Identification of Client:

The Firm represents the individual acknowledging this agreement unless the individual acknowledging this agreement notifies the Firm that the individual has engaged the Firm on behalf of a separate legal entity, such as a corporation or limited liability company. Upon notification the term “Client” in this agreement will refer to the separate legal entity, unless the context clearly requires the term “Client” to refer to the individual acting on behalf of such entity.

Joint Representation of Spouses:

Legal services that involve the joint representation of spouses will require the Firm to obtain additional written consent from both spouses before legal services are rendered. In any legal matter involving the potential joint representation of spouses an attorney for the Firm will review the possible pros and cons of a joint representation with the couple and go over the Firm’s Joint Representation Service Agreement before commencing any chargeable services. 

Services to be Provided:

The Firm has been engaged to provide the Client the service(s) ordered from the Firm through its website located at https://www.carolinaestateplanning.com (the “Site”). Each service purchased by the Client from the Site is referred to as a “Service.” Each Service has a specific scope of work. The (“Scope of Work”) includes only the service(s) described on the individual product page for each Service on the Site. Any description of a Service that may be found on another page of the Site is for general informational purposes only and is not part of the Scope of Work for that Service.

As an example, the Scope of Work for the Service “Individual Estate Plan” is only found on the webpage https://www. carolinaestateplanning.com/shop/individual-estate-plan/. The description found on any other webpage is not part of the Scope of Work for that Service.

The Firm only wants to provide services, which are beneficial to its Client(s). Therefore, the Firm reserves the right to decline representation or to terminate representation of any person seeking to purchase or use any Service ordered through the Site if determined, in the Firm’s sole discretion, that the Service is inappropriate for the person’s circumstances or intended use. If such a determination is made, the Firm will notify the person by email or U.S. Postal Service that the Firm is terminating the representation. If the Firm terminates the representation as to a Service, and the Firm has already received payment for the Service, the Firm will refund the payment in full, and if the Firm has not yet received payment, the Firm will cancel the credit card transaction and provide the person a record of the cancellation. While the Firm is not obligated to do so, at the time of termination, it may suggest another Service through the Site, which the Firm believes is more appropriate for the person’s circumstances or intended use, or the Firm may offer to undertake representation of the person on an hourly fee basis or other billing basis under a separate engagement agreement.

The Firm employs attorneys licensed in the State of North Carolina to perform work on Client matters. The Firm employs or may employ legal assistants, clerks and interns, who may also work on this matter. The Client acknowledge that as of the date of this agreement, The Law Office of Jeffrey L. Bloomfield PLLC only provides Services that involve the application of North Carolina law through its Site.

Attorney Consultations

Last Will and Testament and Estate Packages include a 60 min consultation. Consultations are limited to estate planning and probate related legal issues. Home consultations are available for Last Will and Testament and Estate Plan Package clients located in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, Clemmons, Lewisville and Kernersville at no additional charge. 

Ala-Carte Estate Planning services include a 30 min consultation. Consultations are limited to estate planning and probate related legal issues. Home consultations are NOT PROVIDED for the following Ala-Carte Estate Planning Services: Durable Power of Attorney, Combined Living Will & Healthcare Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, and HIPAA Releases. Home consults for Ala-Carte Estate Planning services may be purchased for an additional fee.

If a consultation last longer than the allotted time indicated above the Client agrees to pay to for such additional legal services on an Hourly Rate Basis according to the Firm’s “Standard Hourly Rate Schedule.”

Fixed Fee

By ordering a Service, the Client agrees to pay the Firm a fixed fee for such Service as described on the Site. The Firm will not perform any work with regard to a Service (with the exception of checking for any potential or actual conflicts of interest) until the fixed fee for the Service is paid in full.

The fixed fee for a Service is fully earned by the Firm at the time of payment and the funds that the Client pays for the Service belong to the Firm and will not be deposited in the Firm’s IOLTA account. “IOLTA” is an acronym for Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts, indicating that the interest accruing on funds held in the account are paid to the applicable State Bar. The Client is entitled to a refund only if (1) the legal work is not completed, in which event a proportionate refund may be owed, or (2) it can be demonstrated that the flat fee is clearly excessive under the circumstances, in accordance with Rule 1.5(a) of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct.

The fixed fee for a Service does not include any out-of-pocket expenses that may be required in the performance of the Scope of Work by the Firm, such as filing fees, recording fees, and the like (“Out of Pocket Costs”). The Client agrees to pay Out of Pocket Costs to the Firm either at the time the Service is ordered or upon receipt of an invoice from the Firm for such Out of Pocket Costs. When the Out of Pocket Costs are known in advance, the Firm will normally collect payment for them at the time payment is made for the Service. The Firm’s overhead expenses, such as labor, rent, equipment costs, subscriptions, and consumables (e.g., paper, toner) are not Out of Pocket Costs for purposes of this Agreement. The Firm will not charge for postage costs at standard U.S. Postal Service First Class rates that it incurs in performing the Scope of Work. If the Client requests expedited U.S. Postal Service shipping or delivery by a commercial delivery service (e.g., FedEx, UPS, DHL), the Client agrees to pay the Firm the cost of such shipping or delivery.

The Firm is not obligated to perform any work outside of the Scope of Work. If the Client request that the Firm perform work outside of the Scope of Work, the Firm may require the Client to execute a separate written agreement prior to undertaking such work. As part of that separate written agreement, the Firm may require that the Client guaranty payment by making an advance fee deposit into the Firm’s trust account or preauthorizing credit card billing.

Hourly Rate Work

The Client acknowledges that asking the Firm to perform work that is beyond the Scope of Work for a Service, will obligate the Client to pay the Firm for such additional work on an hourly basis, as described herein, unless the Firm and Client agree in writing to some other billing arrangement.

For legal services that the Firm performs that are not part of a fixed fee Service, the Client agrees to pay to for such legal services on an Hourly Rate Basis according to the following schedule (the “Standard Hourly Rate Schedule”):

Attorney: $250.00 per hour
Paralegals: $95.00 per hour
Assistants/Legal Clerks: $75.00 per hour

Hourly Rate Billing Policies

The following policies apply to the Firm’s Hourly Rate Work and are made a part of this agreement:

     A. For Hourly Rate Work, the Firm bills on a 1/10-hour basis, subject to a 2/10-hour minimum charge per activity, including for telephone calls and correspondence (whether by email or by written letter).

     B. The Firm may incur various expenses in providing Hourly Rate Work. The Client agrees to pay all such expenses and to reimburse the Firm for all out-of-pocket expenses, which the Firm pays on the Client’s behalf. Whenever possible, the Firm will forward bills for any expenses incurred on the Client’s behalf directly to the Client and the Client agrees to make prompt payment directly to the originator of these bills. These expenses include, but are not limited to: filing fees; recording fees; postage; expedited delivery fees; electronic research fees; expert witness fees; court reporter fees; and any other costs or out-of-pocket expenses not in the nature of payment for the Firm’s professional legal services, including copies or printed pages (Client agrees to pay for black and white copies/printed pages in excess of 50 per month at the rate of $.05 per page and $.35 for each color copy or printed page.) In addition, the Client agrees to pay to the Firm the sum of $.545 per mile for mileage incurred in the course of performing legal services for the Client.

Deposits:

At the Firm’s sole discretion, the Firm may require that the Client pay an initial advance fee deposit (the “Advance Fee Deposit”) prior to the Firm beginning Hourly Rate Work or, if the Firm has started to perform Hourly Rate Work, or the Firm is continuing to perform Hourly Rate Work, in order to secure the payment of fees and expenses incurred by the Client.

If no initial Advance Fee Deposit is requested, the Firm reserves the right to require such a deposit at any time, at its discretion. Any Advance Fee Deposit paid by the Client will be placed in the Firm’s IOLTA account. The Client authorizes the Firm to withdraw the principal from the IOLTA account to pay the Firm’s fees as they are incurred by the Client, with such withdrawal to occur on or after ten (10) calendar days after the day that the Firm deposits invoices in the mail to the Client or after the day that the Firm delivers such invoices to the Client via the Firm’s online Smart Invoicing or Client Portal (see the section titled “Smart Invoicing and Client Portal” below). If, at the termination of services under this agreement, the total amount incurred by the Client for the Firm’s fees and costs is less than the amount of the deposits paid to the Firm by the Client, the difference will be refunded to the Client. As a specific condition of continuing the representation of the Client, the Firm may request that the Client deposit additional Advance Fee Deposits in the Firm’s IOLTA account to either replenish the initial deposit or to add to such deposit. In the event that the Client does not promptly satisfy such request, the Firm may terminate the representation described in this agreement. To the extent the Firm has earned any fees or incurred costs on the Client’s behalf that are unpaid, the Firm, in accordance with Rule 1.5(f) of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, will make a reasonable effort to advise the Client of the existence of the North Carolina State Bar's program of fee dispute resolution at least 30 days prior to initiating legal proceedings to collect the disputed fee; and the Firm will participate in good faith in the fee dispute resolution process if the Client submits a proper request. After compliance with Rule 1.5(f) of the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, the Firm may have lien rights against the Client’s funds held in its trust account under applicable state law. The Client acknowledges the Firm’s potential lien rights by checking the box labeled “I have read and accept the Service Engagement Agreement,” on the legal services checkout page (https://www.carolinaestateplanning.com/checkout) of the Carolina Estate Planning Website and then clicking or otherwise pressing the “Place Order” button on that webpage. If the Client has any questions regarding these lien rights, please discuss them with a representative of The Law Office of Jeffrey L. Bloomfield, PLLC before submitting to this agreement.

Any funds belonging to the Client will be held in the Firm’s IOLTA account. In the event the Firm will hold unusually large sums for an extended period, the Firm may set up a separate trust account on which interest will accrue to the Client. The Firm will set up such a separate trust account when appropriate in its judgment, if likely interest accrual on the funds held will materially exceed the cost of setting up and managing the separate trust account, including fees charged by the Firm’s banking institution as well as the fees and costs to be charged to the Client by the Firm’s attorneys and/or staff for time and expense related to establishing the account and performing required record keeping. Fixed fees paid to the Firm for a Service are not deposited into the Firm’s IOLTA account.

Payment Requirements

The Firm bills on or about the 5th of the month for all work performed and expenses incurred in the previous month. Payment is due in full upon receipt. If the Client defaults on payments, the Client will be notified by the Firm and efforts will be made to resolve the situation. Interest will be calculated at a compound rate of one and one-half percent (1.5%) per month for every month that the balance is outstanding. These fees are to be paid solely by the defaulting Client to the Firm for deposit into the Firm’s general account. If the situation cannot be resolved within three months of the first invoice that was issued with an outstanding balance, representation of the Client will cease. In the case of joint representation, Clients who are not in default will not be responsible for the outstanding payments of the defaulting client but will be immediately notified upon the cessation of services to said client. An invoice will immediately be issued to all parties, and the responsibility of all subsequent costs or expenses will be equitably shared by the remaining clients.

The Firm may change the Standard Hourly Rate Schedule upon reasonable notice to the Client. The Firm will deliver invoices to the Client for review and payment through email, online Smart Invoicing or the Client Portal, as described below.

Online Smart Invoicing and Client Portal

The Firm will share invoices and other documents with the Client through encrypted email. It is the Firm’s practice to share documents through password protected attachments when the sensitivity of the document so requires. The Firm may alternatively establish a secure online account (the Client Portal) to permit two-way sharing of digital files. If the Firm establishes a Client Portal for the Client, the Client agree to use a complex password for the Client Portal account, which the Client will keep confidential. Please call the Firm regarding any questions about file sharing or the Client Portal.

Invoices will be sent using Smart Invoicing from QuickBooks so the Client can securely pay invoices with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Wallet or bank transfer. The Client can also pay by delivering a check or cash to the Firm.

The Firm will send email to the email address provided by the Client at the time of checkout for the purchase of the Service(s).

The Firm will use this email address for general communication purposes, unless directed otherwise by the Client (as described in the Communication section below). The Client represent that the email address provided to the Firm is for an email account which the Client does not share, and which is not an account owned by the Client’s employer (unless the Client has control over such employer’s email hosting account). Please know that attorney-client privilege may be inadvertently waived by receiving email from the Firm at an email account shared with others or which is owned by the Client’s employer (unless the employer’s email hosting account is controlled by the Client).

The Client agrees to promptly notify the Firm if the Client’s email address has changed or if the email account is disabled.

Communication

The Firm’s primary point of contact regarding this matter will be the person acknowledging this agreement. If at any time the Client wishes to change the primary point of contact, please let the Firm know in writing and provide complete contact information.

The Firm’s policy is to use email for general communication purposes, as this saves postage expense for our clients and provides a record of communication. As described above, the Firm will use password protected documents when necessary and/or the Client Portal for document sharing. When the Firm needs the Client’s signature on documents, it will use digital signatures (through Adobe Document Cloud) whenever possible, and the Firm will use U.S. Mail for documents requiring the Client’s original signature or when otherwise required. If the Client would like to use an email address for general communication other than the one listed above, please advise the Firm.

The Client consents to receive delivery of electronic newsletters and other communications from the Firm or from an entity affiliated by ownership with the Firm. The Firm will never share the Client’s email address with any unaffiliated third party. The Client may opt out of the Firm’s newsletter mailing list at any time by using the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of any newsletter email.

Client Cooperation

The Firm will perform the legal services called for under this Agreement, keep the Client informed of progress and developments, and respond promptly to Client inquiries and communications. The Client, in turn, agree to be truthful and cooperative with the Firm, keep the Firm reasonably informed of developments and of the Client’s address, telephone numbers, email addresses and general whereabouts; provide the Firm with documents that may be needed; and timely make any payments required by this agreement.

No Promises as to Fees or Outcome

The Client acknowledge that the Firm has made no promises or representations regarding the total amount of the Firm’s fees and expenses to be incurred by the Client under this agreement or the success or failure of the Client’s claims, potential claims, defenses or potential defenses.

The Client’s Right to Terminate Representation

The Client may terminate this representation at any time with or without cause by notifying the Firm in writing of the Client’s desire to do so. Upon receipt of the notice to terminate representation, the Firm will stop all legal work on the Client’s behalf immediately. The Client will be responsible for paying all legal fees and expenses incurred on the Client’s behalf in this matter before the date that written notice of termination was received by the Firm. Please note that the fixed fee paid for a Service is earned on receipt and the Client will not be entitled to a refund of any portion of the flat fee unless (1) the legal work is not completed, in which event a proportionate refund may be owed, or (2) it can be demonstrated that the flat fee is clearly excessive under the circumstances.

The Firm’s Right to Terminate Representation

The Firm may terminate its representation of the Client (to the extent ethically permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct and the court allows) at any time if the Client breaches any material term of this Agreement or fails to cooperate or follow our advice on a material matter, if a conflict of interest develops or is discovered, or if there exists at any time any fact or circumstance that would, in our opinion, render our continuing representation unlawful, unethical, or otherwise inappropriate. If the Firm elects to terminate our representation, the Client will take all steps reasonably necessary and will cooperate as reasonably required to free the Firm of any further obligation to perform legal services, including the execution of any documents necessary to complete our withdrawal from representation. In such case, the Client agrees to pay for all legal services performed and expenses incurred before the termination of our representation in accordance with the provision of this agreement. If the Firm terminates its representation of the Client before completing the Scope of Work for any reason the Firm will refund the fixed fee to the Client, less any Out of Pocket Costs incurred on the Client’s behalf.

Fees and Costs of Collection

In the event that it becomes necessary for the Firm to hire an attorney to collect unpaid fees and costs incurred by the Client, then the Client agrees to pay all such costs of collection, including any attorney fees and costs incurred by the Firm on appeal, if any (whether incurred by an attorney employed by the Firm or employed by a different law firm). In the event the Firm elects to file a civil action to collect unpaid fees and costs, the Client agrees that the venue for such action will be in Forsyth County, North Carolina.

Carolina Estate Planning appreciates the opportunity to represent you in this matter. If you have questions, please feel free to contact our office at your convenience