Why Do Many People Fear Additional Probate Costs?
Apart from the filing fee, most people fear probate costs due to the lumpsum attorney fees anticipated. However, this should not worry you much about assets in probate since there still exist many lawyers who can provide ordinary services that are affordable. Therefore, this may not cost you much during the entire legal process for your probate estate. When the will for the estate assets is well defined, you can navigate the entire process conveniently.
What Constitutes “Extraordinary” Services?
According to the California rules of court, the following services are examples of those considered “extraordinary” and therefore eligible for additional attorneys’ fees:
- Legal services in connection with the sale of real property held in the estate;
- Services to secure a loan to pay estate debts;
- Defense of the personal representative’s account;
- Defense of a will contested after its admission to probate;
- Extraordinary tasks carried out to locate estate assets; and
- Accounting for a deceased, incapacitated, or absconded personal representative under Probate Code section 10953.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it includes some of the more common examples of extraordinary administrative services during a probate proceeding for the real estate case. For example, at times, interested parties do contest wills, and personal representatives may not necessarily feel comfortable defending the probate documents of the probate estate. Thus, these situations typically require additional action from a lawyer outside of their normal probate responsibilities during the legal process. Other aspects that may call for additional fees from an attorney include ancillary administration, ancillary petition, and petition for approval.
Therefore, a considerate personal representative to the deceased will understand the need for statutory compensation through a client-centered service. An attorney may also request for allocation of amounts more than required if they get involved in performing other obligations on estate property and non-cash assets. You can also incur extra costs by paying probate referee fees. If there exists a petition for the appointment of a personal representative, the attorney may also charge additional fees up to hundreds of dollars.
How Much Do California Probate Fees on Extraordinary Services Cost?
The extraordinary California probate fees for lawyers vary by situation. Plus, the court has the power to set the additional fee amounts, so they are generally difficult to estimate (especially for complex matters). For estates larger than twenty-five million dollars, the court holds the mandate to determine the cost of probate. However, we can look to past cases in California Probate Courts to get a better idea of their additional fees compensation.
For example, in the 2008 case of Estate of Lopez in the California Appellate Court, the administrator of the estate procedure appealed the Probate Court’s decision to award additional compensation to his attorney. Through a notice of appeal, the administrator cited additional costs in the fee list.
In this case, the probate lawyer helped the executor (court-suspended) deal with troublesome accounting issues and avoid an additional charge. As a result, the lawyer charged an extraordinary fee of $14,772.30 to account for nearly 70 hours of additional work. The value of the estate was $1,124,728.44. Although a personal representative of the estate appealed the extraordinary fees, the court denied this request.
Reducing Extraordinary California Probate Fees for Attorneys
Unfortunately, while you may, as described above, object to an attorneys’ extraordinary fees, it’s not the best way to save money on your California probate fees. Instead, the best way to prevent extraordinary fees (or revocation of probate) is to avoid hiring an attorney to handle your probate matter and focus on self-administered probate.
This could either apply for an hourly rate or a fixed price. For example, if you are the executor of a simple, uncontested estate in California, you may not need to hire a legal representation for your current probate petition and subsequent petition. We also provide special administration services for property subject to probate.
As an executor, you have authority over estate assets belonging to the deceased. Therefore, you can discuss the cost of probate with the designated beneficiaries. For complicated assets, you can sell some of the estates with assets to afford the probate fees. Payment of compensation fees to attorneys should not bother you much. Ensure that you only afford a reasonable compensation for a basic probate administration. When the formal administration process begins, you need to determine whether there exists an ancillary asset from your probate assets that may demand extra fees. This majorly entails typical probate procedures.
Instead, consider working with a registered legal document assistant such as A People’s Choice. We provide flat-fee, low probate cost assistance with completing probate administration. It’s just a matter of paperwork before everything gets completed. Plus, we can customize our services to fit your needs in a subsequent petition. Therefore, you’ll minimize on payment of compensation other than the basic court probate fees.
A People’s Choice has over 40 years of experience in assisting individuals with their legal documents in the California court system. Also, we have established an excellent reputation in the community. Call today at 1-800-747-2780 to learn more about how we can help.