One of the major reasons I recommend revocable living trusts to my clients is the high cost of probate, particularly for smaller estates. Costs for probate are determined by the Probate Code. Thus, if you hire an attorney to handle the probate of a person who has died, the attorney’s fees are determined by the Probate Code. In addition to attorneys’ fees, a personal representative,  also known as an executor or administrator, is entitled to statutory fees under Probate Code Section 10800.

Attorneys’ fees are determined by Probate Code Section 10810; however, the Probate Code allows for additional fees for “extraordinary services,” which a court may award an attorney. The fees described below are based upon the gross value of an estate which is the total value of the estate. For example, it is important to note that the gross value of property is the value of the property regardless of any mortgage on the property.

Gross Value of the Estate

Attorneys’ Fee Percentage

Total Attorney Fee

$100,000 and below 4% on the first $100,000 $4,000
$100,001-$200,000 3% on the second $100,000 $3,000 ($7,000 for a $200,000 estate)
$200,001-$1,000,000 2% on the next $800,000 $16,000 ($23,000 for a $1,000,000 estate)
$1,000,001-$10,000,000 1% on the next $9,000,000 $90,000 ($113,000 for a $10,000,000 estate)
$10,000,001-$25,000,000 0.5% on the next $15,000,000 $75,000 ($188,000 for a $25,000,000 estate)
Over $25,000,000 Reasonable Amount A reasonable amount would be determined by the court

In addition to the fees mentioned above, a personal representative would be entitled to the same amount. For example, for a $200,000 estate, the attorneys’ fees would be $7,000 and an executor or administrator would be entitled to $7,000. Often times the personal representative does not charge; however, this varies.

Further, there are appraisal fees because all assets have to be appraised. There are also several filing fees to be paid to the court as well as publication fees.

Although it is important to note that there are costs with administrating a trust after the settlor dies in order for property to be distributed to beneficiaries, often for smaller estates, the costs are less than probate. Often times in a trust the costs of trust administration can be much more cost effective than probate.

Attorney Anthony Marinaccio can represent you in drafting an estate plan or to represent the estate of a decedent. Please contact Anthony at (818) 839-5220 to set up a free initial consultation