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Understanding Probate Fees in California: A Guide to Probate Attorney and Executor / Administrator Costs

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May 1, 2024

Expert Guidance from a Probate Attorney in La Verne

Delving into the complexities of attorney fees in California’s probate cases uncovers a frequent question: Are these fees influenced by the estate’s gross or net value?

Understanding the key difference between gross and net assets is essential. In California, it’s the gross assets that form the basis for calculating both probate attorney and executor fees, a distinction that has significant implications for the estate planning process.

Gross vs. Net: A Fundamental Distinction

The term ‘gross’ captures the total value of the estate before any deductions—such as debts, taxes, or mortgages—are made. It represents the full extent of the estate’s worth. ‘Net’, on the other hand, reflects the estate’s value after these deductions, essentially what you might consider the estate’s “equity” or the amount that can be distributed to beneficiaries.

How California’s Probate Fees Are Determined

Within the framework of California’s probate proceedings, the fees for probate attorneys, as well as those for executors or administrators, hinge on the estate’s gross value. Imagine an estate that includes a property valued at $500,000, but with a mortgage of $200,000. While the net value might only be $300,000 after the mortgage is accounted for, the probate attorney’s and executor’s fees are calculated from the gross amount of $500,000.

A Closer Look at the Fee Structure

California adheres to a statutory fee schedule for probate cases, outlined as follows:

– 4% on the first $100,000 of the gross estate value

– 3% on the next $100,000

– 2% on the following $800,000

– 1% on the subsequent $9 million

– 0.5% on the next $15 million

– For estates exceeding $25 million, the court determines a reasonable fee according to California probate code 10810.

Applying this schedule to our $500,000 estate example:

– 4% of the first $100,000 equals $4,000

– 3% of the subsequent $100,000 equals $3,000

– 2% of the remaining $300,000 equals $6,000

– Totaling $13,000 in probate attorney fees, with an equal amount for the executor

The Importance of Understanding Extraordinary Fees

It’s crucial for individuals navigating the probate process to discuss potential extraordinary fees with their probate attorney. These could arise from more complex aspects of estate administration and are not covered by the standard fee schedule. A thorough understanding of all possible fees ensures that you can approach the probate process with clarity and preparedness.

At JV Law Offices APC, we prioritize transparent communication about the costs associated with probate and estate planning. Our aim is to demystify the financial aspects of these processes, ensuring you can make informed decisions about your estate and legacy.

Take control of your legacy today. Avoid the hassle and uncertainty of probate with JV Law Offices by your side. As an experienced probate attorney in La Verne, we will guide you through the estate planning process, ensuring your wishes are upheld and your loved ones are protected. 


This blog is our way of making sure you’re clued in and feeling good about this big life shift, with a helping hand from our team. Remember, we’re here to turn the legal jargon into something you can not only understand but use to empower your family. And, while we’re here to guide you through the legal landscape, remember this blog is for general information purposes and not a substitute for legal advice tailored to your unique situation.

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