As of November 1, 2010, the cost to file for probate is increasing to $395. This fee is set by the Court and the size of the estate is not considered. What other costs are involved in probate?
The person petitioning the Court to be appointed administrator or executor will also have to publish a notice in the local newspaper, showing the decedent’s date of death, who is petitioning to administer the estate, and the contact information of the executor/ administrator so that creditors and other interested persons can contact them. The cost of publication is approximately $350 – $500.
Once the assets have been inventoried, they need to be appraised. Usually this is done by the probate referee who charges approximately 1/10 of 1% of the appraised value of the asset. If there are multiple real properties or items of personal property that have to be appraised, there may be several appraisals, adding to the cost of probate.
Sometimes a bond is required which insures against administrator or executor misconduct which causes a monetary loss. Obtaining a bond can be another cost and is in the discretion of the court if there is no will which waives bond. Bonds can cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the size of the estate.
Attorney’s fees also add significantly to the cost of probate. Attorney’s fees are set by the Probate Code: 4% of the first $100,000, 3% of the next $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000. Also keep in mind that the attorney’s fees are computed on the gross value of the asset. For example if the decedent left a $500,000 house with a $400,000 mortgage, you might think the fees are based on $100,000 but that is not the case. Fees will be calculated on the $500,000 value.
Administrators and executors are entitled to claim the same amount of money for administering the probate estate as the attorney. As an example, with a $1 million estate, attorney’s fees will be $23,000 and administrator/executor fees will also be $23,000 for a total of $46,000.
Probate can be a costly and time consuming process, which can be eliminated or substantially reduced by using a revocable living trust as your estate plan. Contact us if you have a probate matter or would like to prepare a trust to avoid probate.