If someone In California dies with $150,000 or more in assets that are not assigned to heirs through a surviving spouse, beneficiary designation, or trust plan, those assets are required to go through probate. The total probate costs vary depending on the value and type of assets being probated. In essence, the cost of probate in a particular case is generally more expensive in relation to the greater the value of the assets involved. The probate court judge’s role is assuring that the deceased person’s debts are paid and that the proper beneficiaries receive any remaining assets.
As recently as October 2017 in Los Angeles County, the initial filing fee for a probate case was $435. This may not be the only court fee, however. There are literally dozens of potential court costs associated with a probate case, and they are generally between $435 to $650 for each separate court fee. Circumstances calling for additional court costs include a complicated estate and disputes between parties.
Attorney and Personal Representative Fees
The Personal Representative is an executor, executrix, or administrator. This individual has the duty of guiding the probate process for the estate. The job can be time-consuming and complicated. The probate attorney provides expertise and represents the personal representative and the estate to the Probate Court. Compensation for the personal representative is a percentage of the estate’s value.
Probate attorney fees are paid from the estate and not from the executor or personal representative. These fees can be by the hour, a flat fee, or percentage of the property based on the value of the estate.
Although higher fees might be ordered if services rendered are deemed to be above and beyond basic probate services, the statutory fees per state law for both the personal representative and the attorney are 4 percent of the first $100,000 of the estate, 3 percent of the subsequent $100k, 2 percent of the subsequent $800k, 1 percent of the subsequent $900k, and ½ percent of the subsequent $15 million. For the portion of the estate over $25 million, the court determines the fees.
These costs are tabulated prior to the deduction of any debts from the value of the estate. So, for example, if the estate is worth $700,000 and debts amount to $400,000, associated probate costs are determined by the full estate value instead of the $300,000 left over after debts are paid.
Appraisal and Business Valuation Fees
To determine the date-of-death values of personal property, real estate, and business interests in a probate case, appraisal and business valuation fees are a necessary expense. The cost of appraisal fees is between a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for personal property such as artwork, cars, boats, antiques, jewelry, etc. Business valuation fees come to a few thousand dollars.
Probate costs also involve accounting fees. The amount varies and depends upon such variables as types of assets owned and overall estate value. A larger estate with uncomplicated assets may not cost as much as a small estate with 30 different stocks and bonds. Accounting fees will sometimes include preparation and filing of federal and/or state estate tax returns
A bond must be paid for and posted by your Personal Representative before their appointment can be made if the posting of the bond hasn’t been waived in a Last Will and Testament. The probate judge determines the amount of the bond, if any. At times, if minor beneficiaries are involved, a probate judge will require that a bond be posted, even if the will did not expressly require this bond.
Other fees under the “miscellaneous” column may include the cost of storing and insuring personal property, the cost of moving personal property, shipping costs for personal property, and the cost of postage.
Contact The Legacy Lawyers About Probate Costs
The probate process can be very stressful for beneficiaries of an estate. For any questions you may have about probate, including probate costs, contact The Legacy Lawyers today at (800) 840-1998. We specialize in handling trust, estate, and probate matters.