How much does probate cost?

The cost of probate is set by state law. When all the costs are added up – these may include appraisal costs, executor’s fees, court filing fees and certified copies, costs for a type of insurance policy known as a “surety bond,” plus legal and accounting fees–probate can cost from 4% to 7% of the total estate value, sometimes more. If someone contests the Will, the costs could be significantly higher.

The legal fees associated with probate are set forth in California Probate Code Section 10800. The ordinary statutory fees are determined based on the size of the probate estate as follows:

  • 4% of the first $100,000
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • 1% of the next $9,000,000
  • ½% of the next $15,000,000
  • For all amounts above $25,000,000,a reasonable amount to be determined by the Court

The personal representative (i.e., the Executor or Administrator) is also entitled to the statutory fee for their services performed relating to the administration of the estate.

In addition to the ordinary statutory fees authorized by the Probate Code, the Court generally awards fees for extraordinary services relating to the following, for example:

  1. The sale of real property
  2. Locating beneficiaries
  3. Preparation of the estate tax returns (if required)

Extraordinary fees are those services provided to the estate over and beyond those required during the ordinary administration of the estate.

In addition, the personal representative has the duty to prepare the formal accounting if not waived by the beneficiaries. However, in practice, the attorneys generally prepare it since even in the simplest estates, the accounting process is complex. The Court generally entitles the attorney to payment from the personal representative for our costs relating to the preparation of the court accounting, if required. This fee is deducted from the statutory fee to which the Executor or Administrator would be entitled.

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