Why do you want to avoid Probate…

…because Probate is Expensive.

Probate fees are payable to both the attorney for the estate and the personal representative of the estate (executor of the will or administrator of the estate) and are determined based on “date of death value” of a decedent’s estate. The “date of death value” is determined by a court-appointed Probate Referee.

Date of Death Value

Formulas found in California Probate Code Section 10800(a) (for the personal representative) and Probate Code Section 10810(a) (for the attorney for the estate) is applied to the “date of death value to determine how much will be paid to the personal representative and the attorney for the estate.

The formula is the same for both the Personal Representative and the Attorney for the Estate: The formula is:

  • 4% of the first $100,000
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • 1% of the next $9,000,000
  • 0.5% of the next $15,000,000
  • The Court will determine a “reasonable amount” for all amounts above $25,000,000

Mortgages are Irrelevant in Determining Date of Death Value of An estate

The court-appointed Probate Referee will determine the “date of death value” of all of the estate’s assets. The “date of death value” does not take into consideration the amount of equity the decedent had in the property, just the value of the property if it had been sold on the decedent’s date of death.

The “date of death value” does not change based on how much the decedent owed on a mortgage. For the purpose of determining probate fees, a home valued at $1,000,000 on the date of death is still considered to be worth $1,000,000 even if the decedent owned the house subject to a $900,000 mortgage.

Estate Valued at $1,000,000 will be Subject to a Minimum of $46,000 in Probate Fees

For an estate with a date of death value of $1,000,000, the personal representative is entitled to a fee of $23,000 and the attorney for the estate is entitled to a fee of $23,000. If the estate has to sell real property in order to pay the decedent’s debts or if there is extensive litigation beyond the normal probate hearings then the attorney could also be entitled to “extraordinary fees” in addition to statutory fees discussed above.

Additional Probate Expenses

The current fee to file a probate in Los Angeles County is almost $400.00. Upon the filing of the petition for probate, the estate must give notice of the petition for probate in a local newspaper, which could cost an additional $500.00. The Court will appoint a Probate Referee who will appraise the value of the estate and the Probate Referee typically charges a fee of 0.1% to 1% of the gross value of the estate plus costs.

Contact us to Avoid Unnecessary Probate Expenses

The more assets that you have in your estate the more expensive probate will be. Contact us now for a free consultation and we will be happy to tell you how much money we can save your estate by avoiding probate. We are here to help.