In many states and in most probate matters, the amount an attorney can charge for his or her services is specified by law as a percentage of the gross value of the estate.
The law of jurisdiction and, in some situations, the judgment of the judge presiding over a case play a role in awarding attorney’s fees. The level of court in which the matter is tried does not always affect the award. Statutory fees may be awarded by a state court in cases involving federal laws or statutes, for example. Fee-shifting refers to the practice of requiring the losing party in a legal action to pay for the legal bills of the winning party.
Avoiding Unnecessary Probate Costs
Avoiding unnecessary probate costs can ensure that the maximum amount of an estate goes directly to the beneficiaries. Here are some strategies that can help reduce or even avoid these costs:
- Create a Living Trust: A living trust is a legal entity into which you can transfer ownership of your property while you’re alive. After your death, the trustee can transfer the property to the beneficiaries without going through probate.
- Joint Ownership: If the property is jointly owned, it generally does not go through probate. The property automatically goes to the surviving owner upon the death of the other. Joint ownership methods include joint tenancy with rights of survivorship and tenancy by the entirety (for married couples).
- Designated Beneficiaries: Many financial instruments, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies, allow for the designation of beneficiaries. These assets typically pass directly to the named beneficiaries without going through probate.
- Gifts: Giving away property while you’re still alive reduces the size of your estate, and thus, potential probate costs.
- Pay-on-Death and Transfer-on-Death Designations: Some assets, like bank accounts and certain types of securities, allow for pay-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designations. This means the asset will be transferred directly to the named individual upon your death, bypassing probate.
- Simplified Small Estate Procedures: Some states have simplified probate processes for smaller estates. These are typically faster and less expensive than the standard probate process.
- Good Estate Planning: A well-structured estate plan is the best way to avoid unnecessary costs and delay. An estate planning attorney can provide you with guidance tailored to your specific situation and local law.
Remember, each of these strategies has its own implications, and what works best will depend on individual circumstances and local laws. Always consult with a qualified attorney or estate planner to ensure the approach taken is right for your situation.
Each year, millions of dollars are spent on soaring attorney and court fees associated with probate proceedings upon the death of a loved one.Investopedia
When are statutory fees paid in probate?
Statutory fees, also known as probate fees or probate costs, are fees that are assessed by the court for the administration of a probate estate. These fees are typically paid out of the assets of the estate, and are generally due when the estate is being settled.
The specific timing for when statutory fees are paid in probate can vary depending on the state where the probate is being conducted, as well as the size and complexity of the estate. In some states, statutory fees may be due at the beginning of the probate process, while in other states they may be due at the end. In general, however, statutory fees are typically paid as the probate process is ongoing, as the fees are incurred.
Statutory fees are separate from attorney’s fees
It’s important to note that statutory fees are separate from attorney’s fees, which are fees that are charged by the attorney who is representing the estate in the probate process. Attorney’s fees are also typically paid out of the assets of the estate, and are generally due at the end of the probate process.
If you are the personal representative of an estate and you have questions about when statutory fees are due, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the probate laws of the state where the estate is being administered.« Back to Glossary Index