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In California, if a loved one passes away owning belongings valued at more than $166,000 or owning real property in the state, their estate will be required to go through probate. Probate is the process of transferring a loved one’s assets to their family or beneficiaries after they die. In California, the probate process can be costly, time consuming, and involve complex legal documents. Depending on the facts involved in a particular case, probate can take as little as 12 months and up to 24 months or longer if the case is complex. At the Law Offices of Suzanne M. Graves, Inc. we use our years of probate knowledge and expertise to ensure the probate process is completed as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Please use the probate fee calculator to estimate probate attorney’s fees and executor commissions for the administration of estates valued over $166,000, but less than $25,000,000. A reasonable amount is determined by the court for amounts above $25,000,000 If you have a loved one who recently passed away, or you wish to explore options for avoiding probate, contact our office today for a free consultation.

How much does probate cost?

CA Probate Code 10800 sets out a statutory fee schedule for attorneys and executors completing the probate process.  These fees are typically paid out of the decedent’s estate after the probate process is complete.  Use our free fee calculator below to estimate the statutory cost of probate for you, your loved one, or your loved one’s estate.  Please note that this fee is based on the value of the decedent’s estate and does not include costs related to probate (filing fees, publication fees, bond, appraisal fees, etc.).

  • 4 percent of the first $100,000
  • 3 percent of the next $100,000
  • 2 percent of the next $800,000
  • 1 percent of the next $9,000,000
  • .5 percent of the next $15,000,000

All amounts above $25,000,000 are subject to a reasonable amount of fees to be determined by the Court.

It should be noted that the Statutory Attorney’s Fees and Statutory Executor’s Commission is the same calculation.  Therefore, you are paying the same fee two times.  However, one time, it is paid to the attorney; the other time, it is paid to the Executor.  For Example, if an estate has a value of $500,000, the attorney’s fee will be $13,000 and the Executor’s fee will be $13,000, for a total statutory fee of $26,000 to probate that $500,000 estate.

How can probate be avoided?

Generally, in California, there are 3 ways probate may be avoided:

1. Create a Trust

a. A proper estate plan has a trust at its heart. Trusts can be created during the life of the Settlor and are the easiest way for assets titled in the name of the trust to avoid probate.  Trusts also help keep the cost of transferring the decedent’s property after death low because the assets will not be subject to the statutory fee schedule set forth in CA Probate Code 10800.

b. What if my loved one created a trust, but some assets got left out of the trust?

i. There are ways to avoid probate even if all the decedent’s assets were not titled in the Trust name. The facts of a particular case will determine whether probate can be avoided or not.

1. A proper estate plan has a pour over will included. Pour over wills leave all assets not titled in the trust name to the trust. This means that the assets will be distributed according to the terms of the trust. A downside of not naming assets in the trust is that the will now needs to be probated. This means beneficiaries must go through the complex and costly probate process to transfer assets, even though they have a trust.

2. Depending on the particular facts of the case, the probate process may be avoided by filing a petition with the court and attending a hearing where the judge is asked to re-title the assets in the trust name without the need to go through probate.

2. Small Estates – Without Real Property

a. If your loved one had an estate valued at less than $150,000 at death and the estate did not contain any real property (Land or a home) then the property can avoid probate. However, even in small estate situations, to transfer the decedent’s assets to his/her loved ones the property will still be required to go through “summary administration.” Summary administration is a process by which the Court transfers title to the assets to the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate.

3. Small Estate – With Real Property

a. If your loved one had an estate valued at under $150,000 and they owned an interest in real property (Land or a Home), but the real property was worth less than $50,000 probate can be avoided by “summary administration” with the Court.

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