Highway robbery and costs of probate publication

I file a lot of probates each year throughout the state of California. Just off the top of my head I think I have open probates right now in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda, San Diego, Riverside, Sacramento, Placer, Orange, El Dorado, Ventura, Sonoma, Fresno, Kern, Amador, San Bernardino, Sutter, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Butte, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and I am sure I am forgetting a few. In each probate case we have to publish in a newspaper that is adjudicated with the court and covering the place the decedent resided.

In many cities, particularly larger cities, there are several newspapers competing for the business. There might be a “cheapie” at $150 and maybe the local daily Goliath charges $750. In most of those cities we have papers we have found reliable who trend toward the low end if not the cheapest. Having been burned by newspapers who messed up publication we know how important a reliable newspaper is.

However, in some cities, mostly small cities or towns, the costs can be much much much more. I have seen publication costs in the $1,000 range a few times. However, today we got a quote on one that left me practically speechless. Well, I was speechless at first… and now am not as speechless.  This small newspaper replied to us with this email: “Total Due: $1,670.80 (includes affidavit after last pub date = emailed & mailed)”

WHAT? ONE THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED AND SEVENTY DOLLARS AND 80 cents!?  It must have been a typo, right? Even $670.80 would have been pretty unusual but $1,670.80 is by far the most I have ever seen a newspaper charge for publication of notice to petition a decedent’s estate.

They are, of course, the only newspaper adjudicated for that area of the state. They have an old fashioned MONOPOLY on publication in their area. They can charge whatever they want. The residents of the state of California are left to pay this usurious amount. The state of California legislature should really investigate this.

Plus, does anybody still read newsprint? Does it really make sense to continue this centuries old procedure of publishing in ink? Maybe it’s time to go digital!?

Come on California do better!

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