Why Is Probate So Expensive?

Nearly everybody has heard of, or has some horror story about how expensive it is to have to go through Probate. It is true that Probate is expensive, and depending on the value of the Estate, can get astronomical in some cases. However there is an easy, straight forward mathematical calculation that can tell you pretty much exactly what your Probate fees will be. California Probate Code § 10810 states specifically what the statutory Probate fees are. For the Probate Attorney the are as follows:

Four percent (04%) of the first $100,000 of value of the Estate.

Three percent (03%) of the next $100,000 of value of the Estate.

Two percent (02%) of the next $800,000 of value of the Estate.

One percent (01%) of the next $9,000,000 of value of the Estate.

For all amounts above twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000) of value of the Estate, a reasonable amount to be determined by the Court.

Let’s then apply this to a typical, average Estate with a value of $500,000:

Four percent (04%) of the first $100,000 of value = $4,000

Three percent (03%) of the next $100,000 of value = $3,000

Two percent (02%) of the next $300,000 of value = $6,000

Then the total Probate statutory fees for this Estate would be:  $13,000, right?……WRONG!

Next you have to take into account that the Executor/Administrator is entitled to THE EXACT SAME FEES!

Therefore, the real total statutory fees of this Probate case example would be:

[$13,000 (Attorney’s Statutory Fee)] + [$13,000 (Executor/Administrator’s Statutory Fee] = $26,000, right?…..WRONG!

In addition to the total statutory fees charged in this Probate case example, Attorneys are allowed what are called “Extraordinary Fees” for certain actions and additional work they may provide. This could include such things as additional work in selling the Probate home, tax return preparations and or working with a tax preparer, etc. They can also charge for their Paralegal’s time in some cases. You can often count on an additional $500 to $3,000 in extraordinary fees that the Attorney may ask for.

So the REAL COST of probating a very average Estate having a value of $500,000 can be anywhere from $26,000 to almost $30,000!

Remember too that the value of the Estate has nothing to do with what might be owed on the Probate home. For example if the Probate home is worth $500,000 and there is a $499,000 mortgage owed, Probate fees are calculated on the GROSS value, not the net value. So even though the home in this example only has an equity value of $1,000, the Probate fees will be calculated on the gross ($500,000) value.

Disclaimer:  I am not an Attorney, and cannot provide legal advice. I am a licensed Professional Fiduciary in the state of California (Lic. No. 1277) as well as a registered and bonded California and Nevada Legal Document Preparer/Assistant. Any information provided on this blog and/or website IS NOT legal advice and should never be used or considered as such. Any information provided on this blog and website is based on my 30 years of experience working in the Probate area. Only a licensed Attorney can provide legal advice, and you should seek out an Attorney of your own choosing if you have legal questions and/or need legal advice.

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