The cost of probate in California depends on several factors. The fees are set by state law. Besides statutory fees, additional costs include fees for:
- Filing court documents
- Certified copies of legal documents
- Probate referee
- Attorney fees and costs
- Legal fees for litigation. For example, a Will contest
The law provides the Executor or Administrator and estate attorney gets paid a statutory fee.
- The fees are calculated based upon the appraised value of the property.
- Probate Code Section 10810 sets the maximum fees that attorneys and representative can charge.
- The statutory fee is based on ordinary services.
The table below illustrates the statutory fees in California.
If the estate’s representative elects to take a fee, the amount shown below in the Statutory Fee column will be double.
|VALUE OF THE ESTATE||CALCULATION||STATUTORY FEE|
|$100,000||4% of the first $100,000, plus||$4,000|
|$200,000||3% of the next $100,000, plus||$7,000|
|$300,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$9,000|
|$400,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$11,000|
|$500,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$13,000|
|$600,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$15,000|
|$700,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$17,000|
|$800,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$19,000|
|$900,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$21,000|
|$1,000,000||2% of the next $800,000, plus||$23,000|
|$2,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$33,000|
|$3,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$43,000|
|$4,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$53,000|
|$5,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$63,000|
|$6,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$73,000|
|$7,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$83,000|
|$8,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$93,000|
|$9,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$103,000|
|$10,000,000||1% of the next $9,000,000, plus||$113,000|
|$15,000,000||1/2 of 1% of the next 15,000,000||$138,000|
|$20,000,000||1/2 of 1% of the next 15,000,000||$163,000|
The court determines the fee for estates above twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000).
Representatives of the estate are wise to consult with their attorney to determine if income, gains or losses during administration get used in calculating the fee base for the statutory fee.
- Debt obligations and mortgages do not get considered in computing the fee base.
- Statutory fees paid to an Executor or Administrator get reported as ordinary income on their personal tax return.
- If the estate representative is inheriting property, this might be why some choose to not take a fee.
- The Administrator or Executor can ask for less than the statutory percentage.
Representatives may also ask their attorney if they will accept a reduced fee. It is up to the attorney to decide if they will accept a reduced fee.
- If more than one person is acting as Executor they must split the fee.
- It requires a court order to pay fees to the attorney, Administrator or Executor.
- They do not need a court order to reimburse a personal representative or attorney for fees paid for expenses.
Examples of expenses advanced are:
- The cost of publication
- Certified copies
- Filing fees
Fees for Extraordinary Services
An estate attorney or personal representative may request the court for additional compensation for extraordinary services.
The court determines if the amount requested is reasonable and just. Courts may deny the request or approve only part of the amount requested.
Examples of extraordinary services are:
- Litigation for claims involving property of the estate
- Preparing tax returns
- If someone contests a Will
It is 100% at the discretion of the court to determine if extraordinary compensation can get paid. This is true even when the services get rendered.
How to Avoid The Cost of Probate
As you can see, probate is expensive! It is also time-consuming too.
We can avoid probate and the cost of probate by creating estate planning documents.
Common estate plan documents are:
- Living trust
- Last Will
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney
Creating estate planning documents is the best gift we can leave behind. The time and cost involved with administering a trust are less than probating an estate.
Simplified Probate Procedures
Depending on the property and the circumstances, simplified procedures get used in transferring property if the value of the estate is from $20,000 to $150,000. This procedure is found in California Probate Code Section 13100.
If you have questions regarding the cost of probate, living trust, real estate or need a recommendation to a local estate plan attorney, we are happy to get you connected.