You have probably heard people say that Los Angeles residents should do all they can to avoid having their estates go to probate. This is because the perception is that probate costs a lot (and its expenses must be paid from estate assets). Yet there are times when it is necessary (even prudent) for an estate case to go to probate court. If you happen to be party to an estate that is headed to probate, then you may rightly be questioning how much the process will cost? 

Fortunately, California law offers you the information needed to get an estimate of what those expenses may be. It is one of the few states which allows attorneys to charge a statutory fee for services in a probate case (in all others, attorneys typically charge their standard hourly rate). This fees equates to a certain percentage of whatever estate assets are probated. According to Section 10810 of the California Probate Code, that fee breakdown is as follows: 

  • Four percent for the first $100,000 of the estate
  • Three percent for the next $100,000
  • Two percent for the next $800,000
  • One percent for the next $9 million
  • One-half percent for the next $15 million

If the value of the estate exceeds the aforementioned amount, and attorney’s paid for the amount on top of that are determined by the court. The only other expense one may include in a estimation is the court filing fee, which usually is only a few hundred dollars. 

While those percentages may seem like a lot of money, this fee schedule could actually serve to benefit you. The primary cause of probate delays are disputes. If disputes occur, the longer the process takes and the more attorneys allowed to bill hourly can charge. With the California model, you know up front what you will be paying.