Search thousands of topics on CostHelper.com

BROWSE ALL TOPICS >> babies & children  cars  consumer electronics health & personal care home & garden personal finance  pets  schools small business sports weddings
CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Taxes & Financial Planning > Probate

Probate Cost


How Much Does Probate Cost?

 
 average costMedium: Estimated at 2-7% of the Estate 
post Post   Comments (2)  

After a person dies, probate is a legal process of paperwork and court appearances used to officially distribute the estate based on the deceased's will (or based on state law if there is no will). Estates smaller than an amount set by each state ($50,000 in Wisconsin; $100,000 in Arizona) do not have to go through probate; neither does property distributed through methods other than a will, such as joint tenancy ownership or a living trust.

Typical costs:

  • Probate involves a number of potential costs -- appraisal fees, executor's fees, court filing fees, surety bond fees, legal fees and accountancy fees. These expenses are paid out of the estate, then the remainder of the estate is distributed to the beneficiaries. Depending on the complexity of the circumstances, total probate costs are estimated to run 2-7 percent of the value of the estate, or $2,000-$7,000 for an estate (house, cars, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, etc.) worth $100,000.
  • Probate laws vary considerably by state, so costs vary also. A Utah attorney estimates that the average cost of probating an uncontested will there is $2,000-$3,000. An attorney in the state of Washington pegs it at $2,500-$5,000. California law sets maximum amounts that can be paid to the executor and attorney in a standard probate process; for a $100,000 estate it's $4,000 each or $8,000 total; for a $500,000 estate it's $13,000 each or $26,000 total.
  • The executor (sometimes called a personal representative) is the person named (usually in the will) to administer the estate. The executor is legally entitled to be paid for his or her services, but if this person is a family member and/or the sole beneficiary of the estate, he or she can choose to not charge any fees, which cuts the cost of probate.
  • If the will is contested (someone files a legal claim saying the will's invalid and the estate should be distributed differently than as specified in the will), probate costs can skyrocket.
Related articles: Estate Planning, Will, Trust, Financial Planner, Tax Returns

What should be included:
  • Generally the steps in probate include; proving in court that a will is valid (usually a routine step); identifying and inventorying the property of the deceased; having the property appraised; paying debts and taxes; and distributing the remaining property as the will stipulates, or following state law if there's no will. In some cases probate can be completed in 30 days, but most often the process takes 4 months to a year or more, particularly if the will is contested. The probate process varies by state; FindLaw.com provides links to estate and probate laws by state.
Additional costs:
  • Attorneys working on an hourly basis charge for any time spent answering your questions on the phone or by e-mail, as well as case-related expenses such as interviews, research or photocopies. Charges are usually done in quarters or tenths of an hour; a six-minute phone conversation may be billed as 15 minutes.
Shopping for probate:
  • Although you can choose to hire the attorney who drafted the will to handle the probate process, it's not required. Ask about the attorney's experience and specific training in estate planning and probate law. At the first meeting, be prepared to provide as much information as possible. FindLaw.com offers a questionnaire[1] to complete before meeting with a probate lawyer.
  • Referrals to lawyers are available through the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel[2] and the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys[3] .
  • Your attorney should provide you with a written fee agreement. Be sure you understand what is covered, and any other fees and expenses you might have to pay.
post Post   Comments (2)  
CostHelper News


Forgotten Expenses In a Home Addition Budget
Items like construction costs, permit fees or debris removal aren't the only expenses to consider when calculating the total costs of a home remodeling project. || Posted August 5 2013


7 Lesser-Known Discounts for the 50+ Crowd
As they age, members of the Baby Boomer generation don't like to admit that they're senior citizens, but they love getting discounts. It's kind of a quandary, because some of the best deals available are reduced prices for older folks. || Posted October 21 2013

‣ All CostHelper Blog Posts


What People Are Paying - Recent Comments
Probate in Bishopville SC
Amount: $6.00 total
Posted by: shantiloo in Bishopville, SC.Posted: November 7th, 2013 02:11PM
Law Firm: Saverance Law FirmAmount Per Hour: 150.00
IT took 20 months to settle the estate and over a year to pay for the funeral cost. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. Saverance handled the case like he had been paid off to throw me under the bus so to speak. Or like he was in a daze or something. Anyone looking for a probate lawyer and not from Bishopville, make sure you get a lawyer from another town (columbia sc.
Was this post helpful to you?   yes     no Report prohibited or spam
Probate - family settlement agreement
Amount: $4,000.00 total
Posted by: a user in RUSSELLVILLE, AR.Posted: October 12th, 2013 05:10PM
Law Firm: MOBLEY LAW FIRMAmount Per Hour: $200$4,
Was this post helpful to you?   yes     no Report prohibited or spam


 

Comment On Your Experience With Probate
 
Subject:  *
Amount Spent:  * total
Law Firm: Amount Per Hour: 
Comments: 
Purchased:  Year: 
City:  * State:  *
 
Information about you:
Email:  * Email addresses are not displayed.
Name:  This is the name we'll display with your post.
me on this computer
*=required field.
 



External Resources:
  1.  estate.findlaw.com/probate/attorney-intake-questionnaire-initial-meeting-with-probate.html
  2.  www.actec.org/public/roster/search.asp
  3.  www.aaepa.com/attorney_listing.aspx
More Personal Finance Topics
Check Out All Costs for Personal Finance How Much Do Funeral Flowers Cost? How Much Do Tax Returns Cost? How Much Does Closing a Home Cost?

Search Thousands of Topics on CostHelper.com

 
Today's Featured Cost Articles

About CostHelper
CostHelper is based in Silicon Valley and provides consumers with unbiased price information about thousands of goods and services. Our writers are experienced journalists who adhere to our strict editorial ethics policy.

CostHelper Community
Complete Spine MRI
Paid: 3990.00
The total charged was $15554. Insane in the tube for an hour and 15 minutes. and charged for 4 separate MRIs... [more]
-Stacey C
Spinal MRI Cost
Microdermal and lip piercing
Paid: 110.00
Leslie is my piercer,she's a rockstar. She's very gentle... [more]
-Dee Garland
Body Piercings Cost
StoneScape pebble resurfacing
Paid: 12500.00
I drain my pool to rebalance new water and left it empty for a couple weeks. Plaster began to crack and pop off. Costly mistake for well performing 15-year-old plaster. Side job cost negotiated from $15,000 including coping repairs... [more]
-Big mistake
Pool Resurfacing Cost
Golden Shepherd cross breed
Paid: 356.42
My 1 year old puppy was spayed yesterday. It was $356.42 for surgery and meds. The cone was an extra $12.76. She also had her umbilical hernia repaired for an additional $183.23. Grand total $553.18... [more]
-Dog mom
Dog Spay or Neuter Cost
Typhoid Oral Vaccine
Paid: 100.00
NOT COVERED... [more]
-
Typhoid Vaccine Cost
AC repair
Paid: 847.56
AC was blowing only cool air not cold. Took driving 15 miles before cabin of truck cooled down. Mechanic thought it just needed freon but that was not the case. It needed the whole new system... [more]
-Frustrated mom
Car Air Conditioning Cost