What are Statutory Attorney Fees in Probate?
Attorneys charge statutory fees based on the total gross value of the estate rather than the amount of time or work involved to probate it. In other words, your attorney will receive a percentage of the estate’s value instead of charging an hourly fee. Since filing probate is usually a relatively simple matter, the payoff for a lawyer is far greater this way.
California law allows attorneys to charge four percent on the first $100,000, three percent on the next $100,000, two percent on the next $800,000, and one percent on the next $9 million. After this, the attorney may charge one-half of one percent on the next $15 million. As you can see, statutory attorneys fees in probate can add up quickly! If your estate has a higher value than this, the court will determine a “reasonable amount” for your attorney. California Probate Code 10810 sets attorney fees.
How to Define Estate Value
California law values an estate based on the appraisal of the property in the estate and gains based on sales. If the estate lost money on a sale, the court would factor this in as well. Notwithstanding, California laws do not consider encumbrances or other obligations on the estate property.
As demonstrated above, you can easily calculate attorney fees for probate if you have a general idea of the value of the estate. If the estate value is $100,000, the attorney’s fee will be four percent, or $4,000. An attorney will receive 3% of the next $100,000 for a total of $7,000 for an estate valued at $200,000. The percentage fee increases with the value of the estate. No need to get your calculator out, however. You can quickly determine the statutory fees associated with a particular estate using our complementary probate attorney fee calculator. Take a deep breath first, because you may be shocked at the amount!
In addition to paying attorney fees, the California Probate Code also allows executor fees to the personal representative. This fee is also a percentage of the total assets of the estate to the executor. In effect, the executor receives the same percentage fee as the attorney. As you can see, the estate will pay a large sum of money for an attorney to probate the estate on the executor’s behalf. The inequities in this fee structure are why so many people try to avoid statutory attorney fees in probate when possible.
Statutory Fee Alternatives
Some contested estates may need an attorney for probate, but most estates are straightforward. You can save considerable money, time, and other expenses by handling probate yourself. As you can imagine, there are many steps involved in probate. After all, it usually takes 7-9 months to complete a California probate process. Consequently, you will definitely need some professional help to make the process go smoothly. But don’t worry. If you hire an experienced legal document preparer like A People’s Choice, you can quickly complete the probate process and save a lot of money. A People’s Choice helps complete all forms you need to start and complete probate and provides complete case management services.
You do not need to hire an attorney to probate an estate in California. Most people can easily probate a California estate with the help of legal document preparer. Contact A People’s Choice for more information about our flat fee probate services. Better yet, see how easy it is to get started for free by completing our quick start interview. You don’t have to pay anything until you know you are ready to hire our services. Have questions? Give us a call at 805-648-5540. We have staff available seven days a week from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm to answer questions.