How Much Does Probate Cost? - Policygenius (2022)

The cost of probate — settling an estate — depends on the type of probate procedure used, which is determined by what’s available in the state and the value of the decedent’s estate. Probate costs include court filing fees, executor fees, attorney fees if applicable, as well as miscellaneous fees incurred by the executor while administering the estate. Some of these fees are set by the state and if you’re administering an estate, you may not encounter all of these costs.

Since probate costs are often paid with estate funds, they can eat away at the inheritance that the deceased had wanted to leave behind for their loved ones. A strong estate plan can try to address these issues by taking measures to avoid probate or reduce court involvement, which would help keep potential fees and probate costs to a minimum.

Key takeaways

  • Court fees are nearly unavoidable, but they can range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the state and the size of the estate

  • The executor fee is a substantial cost of settling an estate (and paid for by the estate), but the executor may choose to waive their payment

  • Not using an attorney can cut probate costs, but there are some situations where you may need legal advice

  • You can save on probate costs by transferring assets into a living trust as part of your estate plan

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How much does probate cost?

Probate costs may be anywhere from 3% to 8% of the estate value according to LegalMatch. So if you die leaving behind an estate worth $500,000, your estate may lose anywhere from $10,000 to $35,000 to probate costs. Next, we'll discussvarious fees you’ll commonly pay during probate and how much each of them might be calculated.

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Court costs

Court filing fees are the first probate cost that you'll encounter when settling the decedent's estate. Probate is the process of proving a will and distributing the decedent's assets, but an estate may still need to be probated even if there is no will.(See: Does a will need to be probated?)

Each state typically offers a few different probate procedures (for example: informal probate, formal probate, supervised probate), and which one should be used depends on the types of assets the decedent had and their total gross value. Different procedures may also have different filing fees.

For example, an initial filing to open probate may be a flat fee across all estates and probate procedures, or it may be a tiered cost based on the value of the decedent's estate, usually with higher rates for wealthier estates. It all depends on the state. The probate filing fee in New York starts at $45 and goes up to $1,250, while in Texas filing a will is a flat rate of $266, and in California it is $435.

In addition, every time you need to take an action that requires filing paperwork with the probate court, you'll have to pay another fee. For example, you may have to pay an extra filing fee if you need to do any of the following:

  • Determine heirship (find out who the decedent's heirs are if there is no will)

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  • Object to the nomination of a personal representative

  • Object to the will or a codicil

  • Petition the testator's testamentary capacity (the will writer’s mental competence)

  • Appoint a guardian or temporary guardian

  • Get additional copies of letters testamentary

  • Open a safety deposit box

  • File a foreign will (an out-of-state will)

  • Reopen a probate case

Executor fees

The person who carries out the terms of the will is called the executor or personal administrator and they are typically paid for their role in settling the estate. They don't just call the deceased person’s beneficiaries and read them the will (in fact, will readings rarely ever happen) but have a full list of responsibilities they need to take care on behalf of the estate before the assets can be distributed.

The testator can specify the executor's compensation in their will, either as a flat fee or percentage of the estate. If the will does not explicitly state a fee, or there was no will, the executor is entitled to a statutory fee set by the state's probate law.

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Learn more in this guide to executor fees.

Keep in mind that anyone serving as executor may choose to waive their payment, so you could nominate a relative to be your estate's personal representative in the hopes that they might waive the fees.

Common estate administration fees

Some extra fees may arise during probate as part of day-to-day estate administration. The executor would cover these costs from the estate bank account and they may include:

  • Accounting fee (when filing taxes)

  • Property appraisal fee (for valuing real estate, antiques, etc.)

  • Business valuation fee

  • Fee for posting public notice in the local newspaper

  • Retitling fees for cars and real estate

  • Property management (storage costs, upkeep)

  • Closing or transfer fees for financial accounts

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Probate bond fee

Bond fees are a small percentage based on the estate value and are typically paid with estate funds. The executor is required to get a probate bond before the court gives them legal permission to administer the estate in certain situations, like when the executor is not a resident of the state where the decedent lived and probate is taking place. The executor can shop around for a bond and may get a better rate depending on their creditworthiness. The probate court may also provide a list of local bond companies.

A probate bond (also known as a fiduciary bond) is like an insurance policy to make sure that the executor does not steal or misappropriate the deceased’s money and assets. If they do, a beneficiary can make a claim to the bond company. The bond is not refundable, even if the executor completes their duties, and may be waived in the terms of the will. The executor may have to pay even more bond money if they do not settle the estate within a certain period of time.

Attorney's fees

Attorney's fees may be worked out between the executor and the decedent’s family, determined by the judge, or based on the state guidelines. An attorney may charge a flat fee or by the hour, and their rates may increase depending on their level of involvement in the probate process, so make sure you discuss their fees ahead of time. (In the case of small estates, your state may also restrict how much an attorney can receive for assisting with probate administration.)

If the executor doesn’t feel comfortable going through the probate process on their own, they can hire a lawyer to help, but it is not usually required. However, some states may require a lawyer to file certain paperwork or represent the estate in certain probate proceedings, so the executor will need to hire a probate attorney. (In these situations, the attorney deals with the court, but doesn’t take on the full slate of the executor's responsibilities.) The estate pays the attorney’s fees.

Otherwise, an attorney is not usually involved in the probate process unless there is a problem. For instance, if a will beneficiary objects to the appointment of an executor or believes that the testator wrote an invalid will, they may hire an attorney (at their own expense) to help them prove their case. If you’re the executor, you might similarly end up hiring an attorney for legal advice.

How to minimize probate costs

If you are thinking ahead, you can decrease the cost of probate with proper estate planning. Certain types of assets — jointly owned property, trust property, and transferable- and payable-on-death accounts — are not subject to probate. They may not count when calculating the value of the estate, which means you could pay a smaller filing fee, and they won’t be the subject of a will contest or challenged by a beneficiary, which reduces the chance that you’ll need to hire and pay for an attorney.

If an estate is worth less than a certain value, it may be considered a “small estate.” Almost every state has a procedure for administering small estates with an affidavit, which may minimize probate and the related costs.

See what types of assets are subject to probate.

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FAQs

What is the average cost of probate in the UK? ›

Solicitors' probate fees are usually calculated as between 2% to 5% of the value of the estate, plus VAT. Therefore, if your estate is valued at £500,000 then the solicitor's total probate fee will range from £10,000 – £25,000 plus VAT. Therefore, with VAT at 20% this will increase these costs to £12,000 and £30,000.

How much does an executor get paid in Illinois? ›

Rates might vary from $10 an hour up to $50 an hour or more. I am aware of at least one court case in which a $50 an hour fee was approved by the court. Ultimately, the reasonableness of the fee must be determined by the court.

How much does it cost to contest a will in Arkansas? ›

In addition, Arkansans has statutory fees as follows: in the court's discretion it can award up to ten percent (10%) of the first one thousand dollars ($1,000), five percent (5%) of the next four thousand dollars ($4,000), and three percent (3%) of the balance of the value of the personal property passing through the ...

How much does an executor get paid in Ohio? ›

Executor fees in Ohio are set by statute.: 4% of the first $100,000 of probate assets; 3% of the next $300,000; and 2% of the assets above $400,000. In addition, there may be a fee of 1% on non-probate assets (except assets in survivorship, for which there can be no fee).

Do you need solicitor for probate? ›

You do not need a solicitor to apply for probate, but most executors and administrators choose to use a solicitor, especially if the estate is complex.

Can I do probate without a solicitor? ›

There is no legal requirement that says you have to use a Probate solicitor. You can complete the process yourself if you want to. However, the personal representatives are personally liable for the estate administration process.

Do I need a lawyer for probate in Illinois? ›

In Illinois a lawyer is required for probate unless the estate is valued at less than $100,000 and does not have real estate; in that case the Illinois Small Estate Affidavit says the estate does not require a lawyer for probate court. This can reduce the time and cost to distribute the deceased's assets.

What does probate cost in Illinois? ›

On average, for a fairly simple estate with an effective Executor and no disputes, probate in Illinois can cost around $4,000 - $6,000. This price can go up or down.

How do you avoid probate in Illinois? ›

In Illinois, you can make a living trust to avoid probate for virtually any asset you own—real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, and so on. You need to create a trust document (it's similar to a will), naming someone to take over as trustee after your death (called a successor trustee).

How much are probate fees in Arkansas? ›

How Much Does Probate in Arkansas Cost? Depending on the value of the estate assets, probate can cost anywhere from 3 percent to 8 percent.

How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in Arkansas? ›

In Arkansas, the probate process is mandatory for any contested estate, if there are creditors (including a mortgage) and for any estate larger than $100,000. If a person provides written grounds for contest to the court, the will goes through the probate process.

How long does the probate process take in Arkansas? ›

How Long Does Probate Take in Arkansas? The average probate process in Arkansas can take between six to nine months to fully settle. Of course, it can take substantially longer if there are any complications such as an heir or family member contests any part of the process.

How much does a lawyer charge in Ohio to probate an estate? ›

What Does It Cost? The average cost to probate an estate in Ohio is 5% of the estate's net value. If someone leaves a $1 million estate and only has a last will and testament, probate lawyer fees, court costs and other costs will total about $50,000.

How long does an executor have to settle an estate in Ohio? ›

Claims against the estate may be made up to six months from the date of death. A small estate that does not require the filing of a federal estate tax return and has no creditor issues often can be settled within six months of the appointment of the executor or administrator.

Does a will avoid probate in Ohio? ›

A Will does not avoid probate. If the deceased person had a valid Will, the probate judge will review the Will to ensure that it is valid and properly executed. The estate executor will then administer the estate according to the instructions in the deceased person's Will.

How long is probate taking? ›

Every case is different, and the exact amount of time will depend on the size and complexity of the estate. In general, the whole probate process can take anywhere between six to twelve months.

Who grants probate? ›

An executor is a person, or persons, who have been chosen to administer the estate by the individual who has died. The executor will need to find out if a Grant of Probate is required, and if it is, it will give them the legal authority to deal with probate and administer the estate of the deceased.

What can you do before probate is granted? ›

Acts done before probate
  • pay or release a debt.
  • get in and receive the testator's estate.
  • assent to a legacy.
  • generally intermeddle with the testator's goods.
  • exercise commercial rent arrears recovery (formerly distrain for rent)
  • release an action.
  • make a conveyance or assignment of personalty.
Dec 8, 2021

Why do you need probate if there is a will? ›

Assets held as tenants in common will not pass by survivorship. Instead, these will pass to whoever is entitled to inherit under the deceased's Will or the Rules of Intestacy. Probate may be required for these assets, depending on their value and who is inheriting them.

Is applying for probate easy? ›

An estate that includes property to sell, or multiple shares and investments, will inevitably take longer to deal with than one simply consisting of money in a bank account. Probate can take months, and in very complex cases, even years.

How do you avoid probate? ›

A trust might further, be used to avoid probate, simply by providing a destination for lifetime gifts (which may so be removed from the estate). It's worth reflecting on whether such gifts, might, more usefully, be made to the intended beneficiary, in life.

How long does it take to go through probate in Illinois? ›

On average, probate in Illinois takes no less than twelve months. The probate process must allow time for creditors to be notified, filing of required income tax returns, and the resolution of any disputes. Creditors must file any claims against the estate within six months of notification.

How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate in Illinois? ›

Every estate does not have to go through probate. Probate is the legal process to make sure that a deceased person's debts and taxes are paid. In Illinois, a lawyer is required for probate unless the estate is valued at or less than $100,000 and does not have real estate.

How do I start probate in Illinois? ›

The probate process begins when a petition is filed in the local probate court to place the will into probate and appoint an executor of the estate. If the deceased person did not have a will, the petition will ask the court to appoint a person as an administrator for the estate.

What happens if you dont probate a will? ›

Probating a will is the only legal way to transfer the assets of someone who has died. Without probate, titled assets like homes and cars remain in the deceased's name indefinitely. You won't be able to sell them or keep registrations current because you won't have access to the individual's signature and consent.

Do you pay taxes on inheritance in Illinois? ›

As of 2021, there is no federal or Illinois tax on inheritances. Some states do impose inheritance taxes, but not Illinois. Illinoisans who inherit money or property, or receive it as a gift, are not taxed.

How does probate court work in Illinois? ›

The Illinois probate process is a court-supervised legal procedure that is sometimes (but not always) required after someone dies. Its purpose is to make it clear who inherits the deceased person's property and to make sure valid debts and taxes are paid.

What is considered a small estate in Illinois? ›

To use a small estate affidavit, all of the following must be true: The total amount of property in the estate is worth $100,000 or less; The person who died did not own any real estate , or they owned real estate that went to someone else when they died.

What happens if a will is not filed in Illinois? ›

In Illinois, a will must be filed within thirty (30) days of a person's death. Failure to file a will in your possession is a felony under Illinois law. Again, the filing must be an original will – the original signed document – not a paper or electronic version of the will.

Do all Wills go to probate? ›

No, all Wills do not go through probate. Most Wills do, but there are several circumstances where a Will could circumvent the entire process. Some property and assets can avoid probate, and while the actual rules may vary depending on the state you live in, some things may be universal.

Does probate have to go to court? ›

Attending Probate Court

If you are a personal representative, you can instruct a legal firm like Co-op Legal Services to deal with your loved one's estate and to get probate for you and will deal with the forms, and you won't need to go to Court at all.

How do I file probate in Arkansas? ›

How to File a Petition for Probate in Arkansas
  1. Step 1: Gather Necessary Documentation.
  2. Step 2: Complete Your Probate Petitions.
  3. Step 3: Get Witness Signatures on the Proof of Will.
  4. Step 4: File Your Documents with the Probate Court.
Sep 25, 2021

How much does the executor of an estate get paid in Arkansas? ›

Arkansas law holds that the executor fee should be reasonable, and not exceed certain percentages of the personal property the executor administers: 10% on the first $1,000. 5% on the next $4,000. 3% on the rest.

What is the probate rules in Arkansas? ›

Probate proceedings are usually only required if the deceased person owned any assets in their name only. Other assets, also known as “non-probate” property, can generally be transferred to the other owner without probate. Arkansas has not adopted the Uniform Probate Code.

Who inherits if no will in Arkansas? ›

If you have children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren, they will inherit all of your intestate property. If you were married at least three years. If you were married for at least three years and you have no descendants, your spouse inherits all of your intestate property.

What is the small estate limit in Arkansas? ›

An Arkansas small estate affidavit is used to collect the personal property of a person who died in situations where the person had an estate valued at less than $100,000. It cannot be filed until 45 days have elapsed since the death of the decedent.

How long can a probate last in Arkansas? ›

The probate process typically takes anywhere from six to nine months to complete. This process can take longer when there are unusual assets requiring special attention. Unexpected problems that arise will also prolong the process. At worst, the process should not take longer than 18 months.

How long does an estate stay in probate in Arkansas? ›

The typical Arkansas probate is around 230 days plus or minus 20 days. Usually, the time runs longer because clients don't return signed papers as quickly as they should or some action gets delayed in hopes of avoiding expense (e.g. obtaining entries of appearance instead of filing formal notices).

Do wills have to be probated in Arkansas? ›

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Arkansas? Yes, a will must be probated according to Arkansas code or it cannot be used to transfer ownership of the decedent's property to their heirs.

Do you need a lawyer for probate in Ohio? ›

A question we often hear from executors or administrators of estates is, “Do I need to hire a probate lawyer?” The short answer to that question is that no, you are not required to have an attorney to probate an Ohio estate.

How do I start probate in Ohio? ›

To probate a will in Ohio, take the following steps:
  1. Step 1: Find and File the Decedent's Will. ...
  2. Step 2: Order Decedent's Death Certificate. ...
  3. Step 3: Petition for Probate. ...
  4. Step 4: The Probate Is Opened and Letters of Authority Are Issued. ...
  5. Step 5: Administration, Creditors, and Inventory of the Estate.
Jan 21, 2020

What is the dollar amount for probate in Ohio? ›

You may qualify for one of these simplified probate procedures in Ohio if: The value of the estate is $35,000 or less, or. The value of the estate is $100,000 or less and the surviving spouse inherits 100%, or. The estate is valued at $5000 or less OR the funeral expenses are greater than the estate.

What triggers probate in Ohio? ›

In Ohio, probate is the legal process that happens after a person (the"decedent") dies, regardless of whether the person died with a valid will or without a valid will. If a decedent dies with a will, then their property is distributed according to the will.

What goes through probate in Ohio? ›

Probate in Ohio is a court-supervised legal process that may be required after someone dies. Its purpose is to make sure the deceased person's debts and taxes are paid and that assets are transferred to the people who are entitled to inherit them.

Does a car have to go through probate in Ohio? ›

You don't have to have will to transfer your car after you die. A Transfer on Death (TOD) is a legal document that can transfer your car without a will. This means that your car will not have to go through the probate court. Going through the probate court can cost your loved ones time and money after you are gone.

How much does an estate have to be worth to go to probate UK? ›

Probate is usually needed if the estate of the person who died is worth more than £10,000. You can read our guide on what is probate for more information. If most of the assets in the estate were jointly owned – such as a joint mortgage or bank account – probate may not be needed.

What do solicitors charge for being Executors UK? ›

If the Solicitors are acting as professional Executors then the value factor charge will be 0.75% of the value of any residence and 1.5% of the balance of the gross value of the Estate.

How long probate take UK? ›

You'll usually get the grant of probate or letters of administration within 8 weeks of sending in your original documents. It can take longer if you need to provide additional information.

Do solicitors fees come out of the estate? ›

Some probate specialists and solicitors charge an hourly rate, while others charge a fee that's a percentage of the value of the estate. This fee is usually calculated as between 1% to 5% of the value of the estate, plus VAT.

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