Probate avoidance tools and strategies are an important part of a comprehensive estate plan. There are several reasons why avoiding probate should be an estate planning goal, including the cost of probating an estate. To encourage you to incorporate probate avoidance strategies in your estate plan, the Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC discuss what it typically costs to probate an estate in California.
Most people leave behind an estate when they die that consists of all assets, both tangible and intangible, owned by the decedent at the time of death. Probate is the legal process by which those assets are identified, located, valued, and eventually distributed to the intended beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of the estate. Creditors of your estate are also entitled to be notified of your death and allowed to file claims against your estate during probate. Likewise, if someone who has the legal standing to do so believes that the Last Will and Testament submitted for probate is invalid, that individual can challenge the Will by initiating a Will contest that must be resolved before assets can be passed down to heirs and/or beneficiaries.
The costs involved in probating an estate can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the value and complexity of the estate assets, the skills and abilities of the Executor or Personal Representative (the person administering the estate), and whether the estate becomes involved in litigation. Nevertheless, it helps to understand some of the possible fees involved in probating an estate so you can better understand why avoiding probate should be one of your estate planning goals. Common probate fees in California include:
- Court fees. Simply filing the petition to initiate the probate process will require payment of a fee. In California, filing a petition to open probate requires a $435 flat fee plus an additional amount determined as a percentage of the value of the gross estate as follows: 4% on the first $100,000; 3% on the next $100,000; 2% on the next $800,000; 1% on the next $9,000,000; 0.5% on the next $15,000,000. Additional filing fees will depend on how complex the probate becomes and whether the estate becomes involved in litigation.
- Executor/Personal Representative fees. The person who oversees the administration of an estate, either the Executor appointed in a Will, or someone appointed in an intestate estate, is entitled to a reasonable fee for their services. The amount of that fee will depend on how long it takes to probate the estate as well as how complex the probate process is.
- Appraisal and other professional costs. If any of the estate assets need to be appraised (something that often happens), the estate may need to pay professional appraisal fees. Other professionals may also need to be paid.
- Accountant fees. If the estate assets are valuable and/or complex, it may be necessary to hire a professional accountant which means the estate will incur accountant fees.
- Maintenance costs. While probate is going on, probate assets must be secured and maintained. Those expenses may be relatively minor if the assets are things such as bank and investment accounts; however, they could add up if the assets involved are things such as real property or a business.
- Attorney fees. If the Executor/PR retains a probate attorney to help probate the estate, that attorney is entitled to a reasonable fee for his/her services. If the probate becomes complicated or is involved in litigation, those fees can be significant.
- Litigation fees. If someone contests the Will, or a creditor challenges a denial of a claim, the estate will become involved in litigation. The costs involved in litigation can be significant.
Contact Los Angeles Estate Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about avoiding probate through comprehensive estate planning, contact the experienced Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group APCby calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.
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