The cost of probate will take a large bite out of your estate. California Probate Code Section 10810 sets the maximum statutory fees that attorneys can charge for a probate. Higher fees can be ordered by a court for more complex cases. The fees are 4% of the first $100,000 of the estate, 3% of the next $100,000, 2% of the next $800,000, 1% of the next $9,000,000, and 0.5% of the next $15,000,000. For estates larger than $25,000,000, the court will use its discretion to determine the fee for the amount that is greater than $25,000,000. The fees listed below are the statutory fees used to compensate attorneys and executors in probate cases for various sized estates. If both the attorney and the executor receive a fee (the most common occurrence), the amount paid will be double that shown below.

























Estates are appraised by probate referees who determine the fair market value of the assets. The fair market value does not deduct for mortgages or other debt, which can result in an appraisal of the property that is higher than the equity that the deceased person owned in the property. Probate referees are appointed by the state controller’s office and they receive a fee based on 0.1 % of the assets appraised.

In probates that are complicated by lawsuits or tax problems, the attorney and executor can ask the judge to approve fees that are higher than those set by state law. In addition to the “statutory” fees, there are costs for court filing fees, appraisal fees, publication costs, and miscellaneous fees charged by the county. A typical estate might incur $1,000 to 2,000 in court costs and other mandated fees.