How Much Does Probate Cost for a $1,000,000 House in California?

Probate can be a lengthy, complicated, and not to mention, costly, process. When you pass away owning real estate that is not placed in trust, your family will need to administer your estate through probate. This means that your family will be required to go to court in order to transfer the title of your property and distribute your assets to your heirs.

As you can imagine, the probate process can get quite expensive. As part of probate, your family will have to pay costs such attorney’s fees, personal representative fees, and other filing fees. All of these expenses can add up quickly and can serve to diminish inheritances to your family members. Therefore, it is important to plan accordingly and ensure your estate plan works so that you can avoid high probate costs and protect your family’s future inheritances.

How are Probate Fees Calculated?

In California, compensation to attorneys and personal representatives for their role in administering an estate are set by statute. California Probate Code provides that fees paid to a personal representative and their attorney are based on a percentage value of the estate. Per law, Attorneys and personal representatives are awarded a 4% fee of the first $100,000 in the estate, a 3% percent fee for the next $100,000 in the estate, a 2% fee on the next $800,000 in the estate, and so on. 

For an estate consisting of only one piece of property worth $1,000,000, you can expect your family to pay probate costs of upwards of $46,000. The attorney will be compensated $23,000 for their work, and the personal representative will receive an additional $23,000 for their role in handling the estate. Surprisingly, this amount doesn’t take into consideration the court costs associated with filing and publishing, which can add at least $3,000 on to the total price of probate. Additionally, under certain circumstances, your family may be required to pay further “extraordinary fees” in relation to your probate matter.

What Additional Fees are Involved in Probate?

In addition to the statutory fees explained above, your family may also be liable to pay attorney fees for extraordinary services. These are charges related to services an attorney conducts that are outside the regular course of probate. Extraordinary fees are usually charged by attorneys on an hourly basis, and can be awarded for services relating to litigation, tax matters, and the sale of real property. Therefore, if you own a home, your family will likely spend $55,000+ for the probate and sale of the property. This fee will also increase if your estate needs to be involved in litigation amongst beneficiaries.

Am I Protected from These Costs if My House is In Trust?

The best way to avoid high probate costs is to place your assets in a living trust. However, it is important that this procedure is conducted correctly to ensure your family will not be required to go to court in the future. Even if you create a trust, you will need to execute certain documents to transfer assets to your trust. 

For instance, if you own property, you will need to record a deed transferring title from your name to the trust. If this is not done correctly, then upon your passing, your family may have to petition the court to determine if your property should pass through trust or through probate. Legal costs for these types of proceedings could potentially cost $5,000 to $6,000, and even after the court hearing, the court may still require the property to go to probate. In that scenario, your family would have to pay for these expenditures in addition to the $46,000 probate fees.

How Our Experience Can Protect Your Estate

Here at Aliav Law, we are experienced in both estate planning and probate administration, so we know how best to protect your estate from costly probate expenses. Call our office at (310) 800-2911 to take the first step in preserving your legacy and providing for your family by scheduling an estate planning consultation.