Would it surprise, or even shock, you to know that the probate fees on a $100,000 estate are $8,000 in California? One-half of the fees are paid to the attorney and one-half are paid to the executor. In addition, there are court filing fees and probate referee fees and the attorney can charge even more if he or she assists with the sale of real estate, recovers assets from third parties, spear heads litigation, winds down or sells a business, or does anything else.
The base California probate attorney fee chart:
4% on the first $100k
3% on the second $100k
2% on the next $200k to $1M
1 % over $1M
If the executor charges, the fees are doubled, as depicted below:
8% on the first $100k
6% on the second $100k
4% on the next $200k to $1M
2 % over $1M
Here are some examples of the probate fees for simple estates (i.e. not extraordinary fees) in sample size estates:
$500,000 has minimum fees of $26,000 (attorney and executor)
$1 million has minimum fees of $46,000 (attorney and executor)
$2 million has minimum fees of $66,000 (attorney and executor)
If you use good estate planning to avoid probate, the settlement fees will be significantly less. While the specific fees depends upon the required tasks and the value conveyed, you can expect to save thousands (perhaps, many thousands) of dollars.
The best way to avoid probate is with a fully funded revocable living trust. Trust assets are NOT subject to the probate process and fees are significantly reduced.
Just having a trust is not enough; you must actually fund the trust. This means that you transfer the title of the assets into the trust. This is how probate if avoided. If you die with assets not funded into the trust, but in your individual name, probate is guaranteed and the fees will follow the above charts.
Avoiding probate is likely to save your family thousands of dollars; if you’d like to avoid high probate fees, plan with a fully funded revocable living trust and consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.
Legacy APC, A Trusts & Estates Law Firm is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.