William Daniel Powell
William Daniel Powell is a San Diego attorney that focuses his practice in the Estate Planning area helping families and individuals with Estate Planning needs. This is his regular blog where he writes on various subjects relating to estate planning and estate law.
Wills, Trusts, Probate, Estate Planning – What does it all mean?
In California, attorneys may charge a “statutory fee”. This is a fee where the attorney charges an amount that represents a percentage of the value of all the probate assets. However, the attorney does not have to charge the full statutory rate should they choose not to do so. But, it should be noted that if the attorney performs “extraordinary services”, the court may allow additional payments in addition to the compensation provided by Section 10810 (of the California Probate Code), 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.
California Probate Code sets the rate currently as:
- 4% of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the probate estate
- 3% of the next $100,000
- 2% of the next $800,000
- 1% of the next $9 million
- .5% of the next $15 million
Keep in mind that the value of the estate is based on the value of the asset, and not its equity. Therefore, if you own a home valued by the appraiser at $500,000 and you have a mortgage balance of $400,000 – the value is not $100,000 but the full $500,000. Also, for example, let’s say you also have other property such as accounts and a car or two (worth an additional $150,000) that raise the total value of the estate to $650,000.
So the attorney probate fees for the estate break down like this:
- 4% of the first $100,000 = $4,000
- 3% of the next $100,000 = $3,000
- 2% of the remaining $450,000 = $9,000
For a total fee of $16,000
So given everything we know now, let’s see what the potential costs will be for a simple $650,000 estate. This can be any combination of probate property, but let’s say the home is $500,000 (not difficult in California) and an additional $150,000 in probate property. Please keep in mind that fees given are approximate and may vary by location, changes in laws, or other factors.
- $400 Court filing fee
- $650 appraisal fee
- $150 publication fee
- $16,000 attorney fees
- $16,000 executor fees (potential)
- $400 fee to file Petition for Final Distribution Total of $17,600 to $33,600
Just like my website, nothing in this blog is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. I am licensed to practice law in California. Further, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog (and on my website). There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would not be practical to discuss all of them here. This is why I speak in generalities. Thanks again for reading.