Most people spend most of their lives doing their best to avoid having to get involved in any court case. Unfortunately, there are some situations that require court intervention. Probate is often one of these. It is not unusual to hear about friends and family members getting tangled up in long probate cases, and there is a considerable amount of estate planning dedicated to avoiding probate or at least reducing the amount of assets that will have to pass through probate. It is uncommon to not need the assistance of the probate system when a loved one passes one, even with the most careful estate planning. If you are facing this situation, you may be wondering how much probate will cost.
Unfortunately, like so many other issues in law, the answer is “it depends.” Two of the most determinative factors are the size of the estate and the general complexity of the case. Cases which involve complicated distributions, establishing trusts, or interstate distributions, for example, will cost more than an estate that has only a small amount of liquid assets and few debts. The reason for this is that an experienced attorney will almost certainly be necessary to help assist with the former case, while it is possible that the latter can be handled through the simplified probate process that does not even require court appearances.
Another thing that greatly impacts the cost of a probate case is whether the will is going to be contested. If a beneficiary or potential heir decides to challenge the validity of a provision of the will or even the entire will, the case will have to go before a judge. Before that can happen, the attorney will have to do extra steps that would not otherwise be required, such as discovery or even additional evidentiary hearings. These will all add to the total cost of the case.
One important issue to keep in mind when thinking about the cost of probate is that executor fees, attorney fees, and court costs can all be paid out of the estate’s assets. In other words, if you are going to serve as the personal representative for the estate, you may not have to personally cover the costs for the attorney.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with estate planning and probate. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and let us help you.