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Probate Fees in California

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The ordinary fees to administer a probate estate are statutory; in other words, they are set by the California legislature in probate code sections 10810-10814. For example, an estate with a gross value of $500,000 will pay $13,000 to both the estate representative and the attorney; a $1 million dollar estate will pay $23,000 to each; a $2 million dollar estate will pay $33,000 to each; and $5 million dollar estate will pay $63,000 to each. In addition to ordinary (statutory) legal fees, for services that fall outside the scope of “ordinary” administration, the court can award extraordinary fees to the estate attorney. This is the case when certain complex matters need to be resolved before an estate can be settled and closed, such as litigation issues involving contests, complex real estate transactions, tax controversies, and the like. Unlike ordinary (statutory) fees, extraordinary fees are billed by the hour for work performed by attorneys and their support staff.

In addition to probate fees, the estate has to pay many court costs and other expenses, such as filing and service fees, probate referee fees, publication fees, bond premium, etc. This adds to the already-significant legal fees. Based on the gross value of decedent’s estate (as determined by the court-appointed probate referee’s inventory and appraisal), the fees are divided by half. One half goes to the attorney for the estate and the other half goes to the estate representative.

Here is a sample of statutory fees based on the respective gross estate value as determined by the probate referee (payable one half to the estate attorney and one half to the estate representative):

Gross Value of Estate

Probate Fees

$150,000

$11,000

$300,000

$18,000

$500,000

$26,000

$800,000

$38,000

$1,000,000

$46,000

$1,500,000

$56,000

$2,000,000

$66,000

$5,000,000

$126,000

$10,000,000

$226,000

Probate Code § 10810 (a) Subject to the provisions of this part, for ordinary services the attorney for the personal representative shall receive compensation based on the value of the estate accounted for by the personal representative as follows:

(1) Four percent on the first one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000)

(2) Three percent on the next one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000)

(3) Two percent on the next eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000)

(4) One percent on the next nine million dollars ($9,000,000)

(5) One-half of 1 percent on the next fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000)

(6) For all amounts above twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000), a reasonable amount to be determined by the court

(b) For the purposes of this section, the value of the estate accounted for by the personal representative is the total amount of the appraisal of property in the inventory, plus gains over the appraisal value on sales, plus receipts, less losses from the appraisal value on sales, without reference to encumbrances or other obligations on estate property.

Probate Code § 10811 (a) Subject to the provisions of this part, in addition to the compensation provided by Section 10810, the court may allow additional compensation for extraordinary services by the attorney for the personal representative in an amount the court determines is just and reasonable.

Probate Code § 10813 An agreement between the personal representative and the attorney for higher compensation for the attorney than that provided by this part is void.

To learn more, contact the Los Angeles probate lawyer at the Law Offices of Maria N. Jonsson, PC. Call (310) 935-0706 for a consultation.

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