Probate Fees and Costs

“Avoid probate, avoid probate, avoid probate!”  That’s what people say. “All the money goes to the state” is another popular cry.   “A living trust avoids probate” is a generally true statement as well.  However, some people end up in probate and should know what it’s going to cost BEFORE you file. At our firm we like to fully disclose everything so there is no doubt. In fact, we give you a written fee agreement so you can see it and we both sign that agreement.

Here is a link to our probate fee calculator.

There are three main compenents:

1) Attorney fees;

2) Personal Representative fees;

3) Costs.


California Probate code 10810 lays out ORDINARY attorney fees pretty well. I will take from that code section word for word:

10810. (a) Subject to the provisions of this part, for ordinary
services the attorney for the personal representative shall receive
compensation based on the value of the estate accounted for by the
personal representative, as follows:
(1) Four percent on the first one hundred thousand dollars
(2) Three percent on the next one hundred thousand dollars
(3) Two percent on the next eight hundred thousand dollars
(4) One percent on the next nine million dollars ($9,000,000).
(5) One-half of 1 percent on the next fifteen million dollars
(6) For all amounts above twenty-five million dollars
($25,000,000), a reasonable amount to be determined by the court.
(b) For the purposes of this section, the value of the estate
accounted for by the personal representative is the total amount of
the appraisal of property in the inventory, plus gains over the
appraisal value on sales, plus receipts, less losses from the
appraisal value on sales, without reference to encumbrances or other
obligations on estate property.

So, by reading this you can deduce that a $200,000 estate, for example, would incur a $7,000 attorney fee in California.

Notice this code section talks about “ordinary” attorney fees. Some attorneys charge EXTRAORDINARY attorney fees in some cases. Talk to your attorney up front to know if that’s likely. We only request such fees in a few select cases where our work is very extraordinary; otherwise we only request our ordinary fees. Some attorneys charge extraordinary fees in every case they can. Know this up front as it can be a big cost!  These fees can be incurred for litigation, selling assets, and other services that are not a part of every probate.


The same as attorney fees. Notice in probate code section 10810 it says, “ordinary services the attorney for the personal representative shall receive….”


Here are some cost estimates for you to keep in mind:

Filing Fee $395;

Certified documents $25 each (2-5 per case);

Probate Referee 1/10 of 1% + travel costs for the referee;

Final Filing Fee $395;

Bond (optional) 1/2 of 1% per year;

Other misc costs/expenses: FedEx, excessive postage, Court Call, etc….

Know up front what your probate is going to cost your family!  Let’s chat. I’ll be happy to put it in WRITING.  -John

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