How Much Does Probate Cost?
When a person dies with assets titled in his or her name that are not held in a revocable trust, that are not in joint tenancy and which do not have a designated beneficiary or beneficiaries who survive the person, then those assets will be subject to a state court procedure called Probate.
There will be fees to file the probate petition, publication fees to the legal newspaper, fees to the referee who appraises assets, and fees to the attorney and the executor. There are two types of fees to the attorney and the executor, statutory and extraordinary.
Extraordinary fees are for things like tax work, real estate sales and litigation. They are for things above and beyond the basic work that every probate would entail.
The statutory fees are equal for the attorney and for the executor. So you double the figures below:
Four Percent of the First $100,000
Three Percent of the Next $100,000
Two Percent of the Next $800,000
One Percent Part Over $1,000,000 (but only up to $10,000,000)
1/2% Percent Part Over $10,000,000 (but only up to $25,000,000)
Reasonable fee part over $25,000,000
These fees are based on the gross estate, so that, for example, if a piece of real estate was worth $1,000,000 when a person died but there was only $ 200,000 of equity, the attorney and the executor would charge their separate fees based on the $1,000,000 gross value and not based on the $200,000 equity.
Avoiding these fees is one of the purposes of signing and funding a revocable living trust. The trust contains internal instructions as to who will be the trustee and the beneficiary when the Creator of the trust has died and assets titled in the trust (or as to insurance, IRAs and retirement plans, assets as to which the trust has been designated as beneficiary) avoid probate.
Remember You Can’t Take It With You