Affordable Sacramento Probate Attorney
Probate in California is a long and confusing process for many executors. To make matters worse, errors in the course of administering the probate estate can result in costly probate litigation and liability. Accordingly, many personal representatives & executors (who, like the probate attorney, will ultimately be paid from the probate estate) choose to retain a local probate attorney to efficiently administer the estate. To learn more about how our probate attorney can help you navigate probate call our office at (916) 299-9913 for a free consultation.
Attorney Jin Kim at Sacramento Law Group LLP and her associates help personal representatives and executors navigate probate in California. With no upfront attorney fees and a small retainer for court filing fees, probate attorney Jin Kim can help you administer your loved one’s estate in a timely and affordable manner.
If you have been appointed as the executor, administrator, or if your loved one died without a will, call our probate attorney at (916) 299-9913 for a free consultation.
Why Do I Need A Probate Attorney?
Probate is a very complicated area of California law that holds considerable liability for anyone administering an estate. Errors can lead to costly trust litigation that not only exposes the administrator to liability, but can deplete the value of an estate leaving little for beneficiaries. To help avoid liability and efficiently navigate the probate process in court, many individuals choose to retain a probate attorney. Fortunately, probate attorneys are only compensated at the end of the engagement out of the estate, making skilled attorneys accessible and affordable.
How Much Does A Probate Attorney Cost?
Fortunately, probate attorney fees are not paid upfront, so cost isn’t usually a barrier when retaining a probate attorney. As to the cost at the close of representation, most probate attorneys charge what are known in California as “statutory attorney” fees which are designed to prevent attorneys from overcharging emotionally vulnerable clients. The fee is established in Probate Code Section 10810 and is represented as a percentage of the gross value of the estate:
- 4% of the first one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), plus
- 3% of the next one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), plus
- 2% of the next eight hundred thousand dollars ($800,000), plus
- 1% of the next nine million dollars ($9,000,000), plus
- .5% of the next fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000)
When computing the gross value of the estate debts such as mortgages and other forms of secured and unsecured debts are not included. For example, if a decedent’s estate only consists of a $300,000 house with a $100,000 mortgage the statutory fee would be based on the $300,000 figure. In that event, the probate attorney’s statutory fee would be $9,000.
Can Probate Attorneys Charge Less?
Yes, but very, very few probate attorneys charge less given the duration of probate, work involved, and procedural complexity. Some executors have the misconception that probate is a simple process, and those individuals are welcome to consult the California Judge’s Benchguide for Probate Administration for further guidance. (But note, local rules may have more specific requirements). With that said, most probate lawyers give the impression that statutory fees are the only rate that can be charged, but that’s not true. The statutory fee establishes the maximum rate a probate attorney can charge, but nearly every competent probate attorney will charge the statutory fee; no less and no more.
Why Does The Statutory Fee Exist?
Executors are often distressed following their loved one’s death and vulnerable to probate attorneys who overcharge for their services. To prevent such a situation from occurring the California State Legislature established a statutory fee that sets a maximum rate probate attorneys can charge for “ordinary” services.
Why Should You Hire A Probate Attorney?
- You don’t pay the attorney. Attorney fees are paid from the estate at the end of the probate. The personal representative (executor, administrator) does not personally pay the attorney fees.
- Avoid liability. Probate attorneys help the personal representative avoid mismanagement of the estate and thereby avoid personal liability and damages.
- Close the estate faster. Probate attorneys efficiently administer the estate. Non-attorneys may find court appearances, filings, and court procedures time-consuming and difficult to understand.
Is The Personal Representative Compensated?
Yes. The personal representative (Executor if there is a will or the Administrator if no will exists) may be compensated in an amount equivalent to the statutory fee in Probate Code Section 10810.
Why Do Some Personal Representatives Waive Their Fee?
It’s up to the personal representative to decide whether to waive or collect their statutory fee. Some personal representatives are the sole beneficiary and would prefer to waive their statutory fee to receive more non-taxable income. Other personal representatives initially elect to waive their fee to enlarge the estate for beneficiaries, but later reconsider in light of the considerable work expended in probate.
If you have been named as the Executor in a will, or if your loved one passed away without a will, call our probate attorney at (916) 299-9913 for a free consultation.