Probate vs. Estate Planning

Probate delays distribution to your heirs and is more expensive than the costs associated with estate planning and trust administration. Fortunately, probate can be avoided if your property is in a properly funded revocable living trust.

Must my loved one probate my Will?

Probably... If you have written only a Will and your property is worth more than $150,000 and you are not leaving everything to your surviving spouse, your loved one will very likely need to open a probate case. The property in probate will also determine the amount of attorney's fees and executor commissions that the estate will pay during probate.

What are the probate fees in California?

Per CA Probate Code §10810, the maximum fees allowed are:

4% of the first $100,000

3% of the next $100,000

2% of the next $800,000

1% of the next $9,000,000

0.5% of the next $15,000,000

Please note that the cost of the executor's commission is same as the attorney's fees – so the dollar amount calculated above needs to be multiplied by two. In addition, the value of the property is determined without taking any liens into consideration.  

For example, if your estate has a value of $1,800,000, the probate fees will total $62,000. Here is the calculation:

$ 4,000          (4% of the 1st $100k)

$ 3,000          (3% of the next $100k)

$16,000          (2% of the next $800k)

$  8,000          (1% of the next $9 mill)

$31,000 for Attorney's fees


$31,000 for Executor's commission

for a 

grand total of $62,000

Of course, these fees do not include other costs that are incurred in probate, such as court filing fees, publication costs, real estate agent's sales commissions, and so on.

Note: the deceased person's liabilities are not taken into consideration when the value of the estate is determined.

For example, if the deceased person owned a home with a "fair market value" of $825,000 and there is a mortgage balance of $700,000 (leaving $125,000 in equity), the home will be part of the probate estate because the amount of the equity is disregarded. Only the value of the home ($825,000) is used when determining the value of the deceased's estate. 

If you would like to start a conversation about avoiding probate, please contact me. You can reach me by using the form on this page; calling; or by scheduling an appointment for us to speak by clicking on "Schedule an Appointment."


My Mission

I am devoted to making estate planning as accessible, efficient and personalized as possible. This way individuals and families are motivated to express their estate planning goals and loved ones do not have to deal with the disastrous fallout from a lack of planning.

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Copyright © 2018 Shawna Murray Law

Shawna Murray is licensed to practice law within the State of California. The information on this website is attorney advertising and has been created for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice nor does it predict the outcome of your case. An attorney-client relationship is formed only after we sign a written client services agreement.