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What is the Cost of Probate?

Probate is a lengthy and tedious process that can last anywhere from eight months to a year (or more in certain cases). In most states, attorneys charge by the hour or charge a flat fee for the entire probate process. In California, however, attorneys are allowed to charge a “statutory fee”, which ends up being a percentage of the total value of assets that are put through probate. That fee can skyrocket the price of probate and make it an expensive and overwhelming process.

Statutory Rates for Probate Cases in California

  • 4% of first $100,000

  • 3% of next $100,000

  • 2% of next $800,000

  • 1% of next $9,000,000

  • 0.5% of next $15,000,000

There are some exceptions to those rates and in complicated cases, the court can order higher attorney fees to be paid based on the value of the estate. The price of probate typically includes appraisal costs, court costs, personal representative fees, and accounting fees among other things. Some probate fees can be negotiated with your attorney, however, others are set by the state and cannot be lowered.

In California, the probate statutory fee is generally based on the gross value of the deceased person’s estate, which can be a huge misrepresentation of the actual money available, since debts and other issues are not considered. According to various studies over 60% of Americans do not have an estate plan, and that fact has turned probate into a $2,000,000,000 (billion!) industry. That money, however, comes from families who lost a loved one, and instead of passing those assets down to heirs and beneficiaries the government ends up on the receiving end of those fees.

How to Get Your Inheritance Now!

If you are in the unfortunate situation of going through probate and need an attorney to help you through the difficult process, our team at Elder Law Services of California is here to help. Give us a call to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our experienced probate experts. If you are not going through probate but would like to avoid the process in the future, then now is a great time to start an estate plan to protect your assets for future generations of your family.

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Free  Consultation

Call Elder Law Services of California today at
 (855) ELDER LAW or (855) 353-3752
to schedule a FREE Consultation with one of our expert lawyers.

Is Probate required in California?
Probate isn’t always required. If the deceased person owned assets in joint tenancy with someone else, or as community property with his or her spouse, or in a Living Trust, then those assets won’t need to go through probate. The same is true for assets held in a Revocable Living Trust and accounts for which a payable-on-death beneficiary has been named.
What are Statutory Probate Fees in California?

The Statutory probate fees for the State of California are;

  • 4% of the first $100,000 of the estate
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • 1% of the next $9,000,000, and
  • one-half % of the next $15,000,000

For an estate larger than $25,000,000, the court will determine the fee for the amount that is greater than $25,000,000.

How to Probate in California without a Will?

In California, when there is no Will, an administrator (representative of the person who died) must apply for Probate.

Upon approval, the court will distribute the decedent’s estate according to California’s intestate succession laws. Note that intestate succession laws also apply if a person passes away with an invalid or non-comprehensive will. This also applies when part of the estate is not mentioned in a will. Under California’s intestate succession laws, a personal representative can be appointed to administer the estate. In this position, the administrator will:

  • Receive all legal claims against the estate.
  • Pay creditors.
  • Manage the estate’s expenses; and find all of the heirs to the estate.