How Much Does Probate Cost?

Probate expenses can chip into assets you’ve spent a lifetime accumulating, robbing beneficiaries of much needed support and creating needless stress for everyone touched by the process. What kinds of fees and costs can you expect, and what can you do to reduce or eliminate extraneous costs.

Unless you opt for a revocable living trust or other estate-planning path that bypasses the probate process, your beneficiaries will have no way of avoiding these fees entirely. The overall costs depend on several elements that we will explore in depth below. Typically, the larger the value of the estate, the greater the probate costs.

Court Fees

These vary among states. In Ohio, they usually run between $200 and $250.

Executor Fees

These charges also depend on the state. Some states designate a “reasonable fee” be provided the executor; others allow a certain percentage of the value of the estate to be used as payment. When executors perform services above and above their basic required duties, they can ask for additional compensation called “extraordinary fees.” Family members normally don’t take compensation for their executor services.

Attorney’s Fees

In Ohio, the executor and attorney can negotiate these fees. Alternatively, some counties in the state voluntarily publish fee schedules. Like the executor fees, when attorneys go above and beyond basic services, they can request extraordinary fees.

Appraisal and Business Value Fees

The value of real estate and personal property at the date of death determines these fees. Appraised items include belongings such as artwork, jewelry, vehicles and antiques, and the costs can run several hundred dollars. This category also involves the calculation of business interests, which can amount to several thousand dollars, depending on the nature and size of the business.

Accounting Fees

These fees depend on the value of the estate as well as the types of assets. The greater the variety of assets contained within the estate, the larger the fees. A complex estate involving an extensive catalogue of stocks, bonds, real estate holdings and overseas business interests will likely generate substantially more accounting fees than will a large estate comprised of only a home and a few bank accounts. Ohio repealed its state estate tax in 2013, but if the value of the assets are large enough, you may owe the federal estate tax, which is due regardless of whether the will undergoes a probate court proceeding.

Even if you’re managing a small and very simple estate, it’s worthwhile to speak to an experienced probate lawyer to get help navigating the system. Call the Gudorf Law Group at 937-898-5583 today for a free consultation.