Probate is a legal system which has been designed to regulate the passing down ownership rights of the assets in the estate of a deceased loved one to his heirs and loved ones. Without the probate process, the assets remain owned by the deceased person and they won’t be accessible by his loved ones. This means the heirs to the estate cannot make use of these assets.
The probate process is a legal means through which the probate court determines the validity of the will and last testament of the testator. If the probate court finds irregularities such as capacity issues in the will, it will declare the will invalid.
Also the probate process is used by the court to determine what happens to the estate of a deceased person who died intestate. This means that if a person dies without having a will, the court will use to process of probate to determine what happens to the person’s estate. The courts appoint an executor and decide how the estate will be distributed among the legal heirs of the estate. This is all based on the law of the state.
Cost of probate
One of the reasons most people plan their estate in order to avoid probate is because of the cost involved in it. The larger your estate, the greater the cost of probate the more the cost of the estate the lesser the assets that will be left for you beneficiaries to inherit
The cost of probate varies based on a number of reasons which include:
- Your state of residence
- The size of the estate
- Whether or not the estate is being contested or not
- How complicated the estate is
Probate fees can include:
- The cost of a probate attorney and accounting fees
- Court fees
- Executor and bond fees
- Other fees
The cost of a probate attorney and accounting fees
Representation by a probate attorney isn’t free; of course you will have to pay the attorney. Most persons prefer a probate attorney to carry out the whole process for them as this will save them a certain level of stress. For some states, it is mandatory that a probate attorney is hired to follow up the process of probate.
The good thing is that the attorney fees are not paid by the beneficiaries or heirs to the estate but it paid from the estate. But the down side to this is that it might end up reducing the total value of assets which will be shared among the beneficiaries of the estate.
Most attorneys charge a flat fee while others charge on an hourly basis. Some states allow the attorney to charge based on a certain percent of the total value of the estate.
The court has no specific fee which will be paid but there is always a fee to pay. Some of these fees include:
Filing fee: This is the fee paid to the court when you file a request to the court to commence probate. It could be based on the estimated value of the estate that is to be settled. It normally ranges from $50 to $1,200
Certificate fees: As an executor to an estate, there are certain certificates which the court will give you that will be required by some institutions like banks. These certificates will grant you legal access to the assets of the person you are representing. The court requires you to pay certain fees per certificate. These fees range from $5 to $20
Notification fees: This fee could range from $10 to $300. The court requires you to pay it when sending official notifications to beneficiaries of the estate.
Executor and bond fees
Surety bonds offer insurance which protects the estate against anything questionable done by the representative throughout the process. But if it happens that a bond is required, the amount will be based on the estimated size of the estate.
Executors can charge a fee to be reimbursed for most expenses they incur. These expenses might be cost of travel, payment for tax prep, etc.
The executor can also be given a fair fee for the job they did in representing the estate. This fee is usually determined by state law.
Other probate fees include:
- Business valuation fee
- Storage fees
- Estate Sale Prep Fees
- Postage fees
- Appraisal fees
Does every state charge the same amount for probate?
No! The cost of probate varies from state to state.
Can probate be done without an attorney?
This depends on the state’s law. But it is advisable a probate attorney is involved as it will make the whole process easier. Our probate attorney is always available for hire. Contact us today.