How much does probate costs?

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Probate Filing Fees: Effective January 1, 2006, there is a uniform schedule of filing fees in proceedings related to probate matters, including the Petition for Probate. The Uniform Filing Fee for a Petition for Probate and related probate matters is as follows:

    * $320 for a probate estate with property valued at less than $250,000
    * $385 for a probate estate with property valued between $250,000 and $500,000
    * $485 for a probate estate with property valued between $500,000 and $750,000
    * $635 for a probate estate with property valued between $750,000 and $1,000,000
    * $1,135 for a probate estate with property valued between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000
    * $2,135 for a probate estate with property valued between $1,500,000 and $2,000,000
    * $2,635 for a probate estate with property valued between $2,000,000 and $2,500,000
    * $3,635 for a probate estate with property valued between $2,500,000 and $3,500,000
    * $3,635 plus 0.2% of the amount in excess of $3,500,000

As you can see, probate filing fees can be quite substantial. Moreover, the filing fees is paid without deduction for mortgages, encumbrances, or other debts on the property in the probate estate (i.e., fees are paid on the gross fair market value of the probate estate).

Fees to the Executor and Attorney for the Executor. The amount of compensation that is paid to the Executor of the Estate and his or her Attorney are governed by California law. In general, the probate fees paid to an Executor amount to about 2.5% of the gross value of the probate estate for ordinary services. The probate fees paid to the Executor’s Attorney amount to an additional 2.5% of the gross value of the probate estate for ordinary services.

For example, the Executor’s fees for his or her ordinary services to probate a decedent’s estate that consists of a home valued at $2,000,000, and cash, securities, and other property valued at 2,500,000 (for a total estate valued at $4,500,000), will amount to $58,000. The Attorney for the Executor will also receive an identical fee of $58,000 for his/her ordinary services. Therefore, the total probate fees for ordinary services to probate an estate of this size equal approximately $116,000.* Keep in mind that debts (including mortgages, consumer debt, taxes, etc.) are not considered when determining the size of the estate for the purpose of calculating compensation paid to the Executor and his/her Attorney. The example below illustrates how these fees are calculated.

Computation for fees to attorney for ordinary services:
(Same rate schedule applied to fees for Executor)
4% of the first $100,000 = $4,000
3% of the next $100,000 = $3,000
2% of the next $800,000 = $16,000
1% of the next $3,500,000 (1% of up to the next $9,000,000) = $35,000
Total statutory fee base estate of $4,500,000 = $58,000

Remember, the Executor of the Estate is entitled to the same payment, computed in the same manner. Probate Usually Takes Longer Than Trust Administration. Also, many probates are very lengthy, particularly when compared to the time required to administer the estate of a person who has created and funded a revocable inter vivos trust prior to his or her death. It is not unusual for a probate proceeding to last longer than 14 to 18 months after the death of the decedent!

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