How much does it cost to probate an estate? The short answer is, it depends on a number of factors, but mostly how complicated the estate is. The major expenses of probate include:
(1) Court Fees. In Washington, the initial filing fee is $240. In Idaho, it's $166.
(2) Personal Representative's Fee. The Personal Representative (PR) may charge a fee for his or her services. Often this individual is a relative, and he or she may choose not to charge a fee. The fee has to be what is “reasonable” for the work performed.
(3) Posting a Bond. If a PR is asked to post bond, this is to insure that if the value of the probate property declines as a result of the executor’s misconduct, the bond will make the estate whole again. It is like an insurance policy. Obtaining such a bond can be costly and depends on the value of the property subject to the bond. It can be $500 or much more if it is a sizeable estate. If there is a Will and if it waives the bond requirement, then the Probate Court will often--but not always--waive the bond.
(4) Publication of Legal Notices. A publication fee is charged by the local newspaper, which announces the person’s death and how interested persons (creditors to whom the deceased owed money) can contact the attorney or PR. The cost depends on the area, but fees generally run between $150 and $600.
(5) Tax Preparer Fees. Depending again on the size of the estate, estate taxes may need to be paid. Tax preparer fees may run anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars if the state is large or complex.
(6) Property Appraisals. An appraisal by a court-appointed independent third party (a probate referee) is sometimes necessary if there are real property or other non-cash (personal property) assets in the estate, such as jewelry, artwork, etc. The probate referee fee may be statutory or set by custom in the area.
(7) Attorney's Fees. This is usually the largest portion of probate fees. In Washington, our Supreme Court has dictated that attorneys have to either charge a flat fee or charge by the hour for probate work; we cannot calculate our fee as a percentage of the value of the estate. In Idaho, attorney's fees can be either a flat fee, an hourly fee, or a percentage of the value of the estate.
If you have questions about probate an estate, give us a call at 253.858.5434 to see how we can be of service. We proudly serve clients throughout Washington and Idaho and are available to meet in person, by phone, or via Skype or FaceTime.