WHAT DOES PROBATE COST?
Billions of dollars are spent each year for probate. Probate fees include court costs, personal representative costs, executor fees, attorney fees, bond fees and appraisal fees.
There is a wide variance in what it costs to open and file a probate case. Examples of such fees and costs include the following:
- The fees your attorney and estate representative charge. Some states set “reasonable fees” as the statutory attorney fee and the executor fee, usually based on a percentage of the gross value of the estate. You can find out the statutory fees allowed for attorneys and executors in the probate reference tables.
- The types of services the attorney performs. Besides statutory fees allowed for completing and filing probate forms with the courts, attorneys have the right to seek payment for “extraordinary services performed” whereby they deliver value to the estate due to unusually difficult or complicated circumstances posed by the probate. For instance, attorneys can charge an extraordinary fee if they are asked to review real estate sales documents. This task is not part of the normal statutory fee.
- The type of real estate the deceased owns. If the deceased owns real estate in another state or another county, it may be necessary to open a second probate case in that state and county and pay additional attorney fees and probate filing fees.
- The cost of a professional testamentary trustee (a trustee of a trust created by a will). If through your will you create a Testamentary Trust, the trustee also has the right to charge the statutory or reasonable fees allowed by the state and/or contemplated by the testamentary trust provisions.
- The fees the courts charge to open a probate case. Some states base court fees on a percentage of the gross value of your probate assets.
- The cost of buying a Surety Bond for your executor, guardian or conservator, which is paid from your probate assets.
- The type of probate process required. A simple probate case will cost less time and money than a normal probate filing. The forms and procedures available to a surviving spouse can cost less time and money than a normal probate process.
FACT: Estimated Probate Costs
Available research shows probate costs can consume between one to eight percent of the value of your probate estate when you die.