Experienced Guidance For The Probate Process
What Is Probate?
Probate is the court process of settling the legal and financial affairs of a deceased person. There are many aspects of the probate process. Some of the most important matters that are settled include:
- Determining the natural heirs to the estate
- Paying the debts of the estate
- Collecting bills for the estate
- Distributing assets in accordance with a will
If there is no will, assets will be distributed according to state law.
What Is The Cost Of Probate?
Legal fees, executor fees and other costs must be paid before your assets can be fully distributed to your heirs. If you own property in other states, your family could face multiple probates, each one according to the law in that state.
These costs can vary widely and are determined by a number of factors, including the size of the estate. California Probate Code section 10810 sets the maximum fees attorneys can charge for a probate. However, a probate court can order higher fees for cases that are litigated or more complicated, such as tax problems, real estate sales, etc.
For probates within the normal process, the fees are 4 percent of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the estate, 3 percent of the next $100,000, 2 percent of the next $800,000, 1 percent of the next $9 million, and one-half percent of 1 percent of the next $15 million. For estates larger than $25 million, the court will determine a reasonable fee.
Appraisal Of The Estate
A probate referee does the appraisal of an estate to determine the fair market value of the real and personal property assets. The fair market value does not include mortgages and other debts. Thus, a $500,000 home with a mortgage of $499,000 with a fair market value of $500,000 is valued at $500,000 for attorney and executor fees. Probate referees receive a fee based on 0.1 percent of the assets they appraise.
In addition to the statutory fees for attorneys, there are costs for appraisal fees, publication costs, court filing fees and miscellaneous fees charged by the county. A typical estate could easily incur $1,000 to $3,000 in court costs and other mandated fees.