Download our free probate checklist. Download now

The total cost of probate in California in 2022

Probate fees in California are determined by probate code 10800 & 10810, read on to discover the costs associated with Probate in California.

California probate fees

California Statutory Probate Fees and Executor Commissions

In California, Probate Attorney fees and Executor commissions are determined by California Probate Code §10800 & 10810 and are based on the gross value of the estate.

As of 2022, the statutory attorney and executor probate fees in California are as follows:

  • 4% on the first $100,000
  • 3% on the next $100,000
  • 2% on the next $800,000
  • 1% on the next $9,000,000
  • 0.5% on the next $15,000,000
  • For all amounts above $25,000,000, the court will determine a reasonable compensation amount.

When considering the estate value, the California court does not factor in the debts of the estate - rather the gross value of the probate eligible assets.

Important to note:

The attorney and executor are both entitled to receive exactly the same fee structure for their services in the estate settlement process.

Let us do an example:

How much in probate fees will the estate pay for an estate with a gross value of $1,500,000?

For an estate with a gross value of $1,500,000:

Value Of EstateCompensationProbate FeeRemaining Value Of Estate
First $100,0004%$4,000

$1,400,000

Next $100,0003%$3,000$1,300,000
Next $800,0002%$16,000$500,000
Next $9,000,0001%$5,000$0

An estate with a gross value of $1,500,000 will pay a statutory probate fee to both the administrator and attorney totaling $28,000 each.

Total: $28,000(lawyer) + $28,000(executor) = $56,000 in total statutory fees.

Fact:

California has one of the highest probate fees in the country.

On top of the statutory probate fees, the administrator, trustee, or executor must be aware of the other costs associated with probate such as: Probate referee fees, and court admin fees just to name a few. - let us take a look into the other costs involved in probate:

California Probate Court Filing Fees

According to code: GC 70650(a) To file for a petition of letters of administration or testamentary - the initial cost is $435.

Executors also have to cover a final distribution fee, according to code: GC 70650(c) - the final distribution fee is $435

Other common California probate fees:

PetitionCode Section(s)Fee
Petition (or opposition to petition) after issuance of special letters of administration or letters testamentary or of administration in decedents’ estates that are not subject to the $435 fee in GC 70658(a)GC 70657.5(a)(2)$200
Search for estate documents, for each search longer than 10 minutesGC 70661$15
Delivery of will to the court in which the estate may be administered (Prob.C 8200)GC 70626(d)$50


The estate may be subject to more court fees, so it is best to check the California court probate fees page: here

According to California probate code §10811 - the court may allow for additional compensation if they deem the attorney has provided extraordinary services and charged at a reasonable rate.

What might count as an extraordinary service?

The court may allow an attorney to be compensated for extraordinary services performed by a paralegal. These services must be supervised by the attorney.

The petition for compensation must list the hours spent and the services performed by the paralegal.

Extraordinary service charges are predetermined

Extraordinary service fees are usually charged on a contingent basis and costs are pre-determined by the attorney.

Extraordinary services are subject to the following conditions:

  1. The agreement is in writing and follows all the requirements of section 6147 of the business and professions code.
  2. The agreement is approved by a court after a hearing that was announced ahead of time, as required by law.
  3. The court decides that the compensation in the agreement is fair and reasonable and that the agreement is good for the estate and in the best interests of people who care about the estate.

Probate can be costly…can you avoid it?

As you can see: probate can cost the estate thousands of dollars - wanting to avoid the probate fee is understandable…after all - California has one of the highest probate fees in the country.

Unfortunately, most estates do have to go through probate, thus paying the probate fee.

However, crafty planners can save their loved ones thousands of dollars by planning ahead, creating a trust, and using transfer on death deeds, just to name a few strategies.

Can you probate a will without a Lawyer?

Technically, in California, you can probate a will without a lawyer.

Choosing not to hire a professional to save some money can actually end up costing you more money and even more time. Doing probate yourself is not recommended.

It's better to have a professional by your side who knows the ropes and can help you avoid making costly mistakes - especially since you're already going through the loss of a loved one.

Probate can be a complicated process, and if you're not familiar with the ins and outs, you could easily make mistakes that end up costing you more money and time in the long run.

A good probate lawyer will help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible, saving you both money and headaches down the road.

To Recap:

  • In California, statutory probate fees are based on the gross value of the estate and are as follows: 4% on the first $100,000; 3% on the next $100,000; 2% on the next $800,000; 1% on the next $9,000,000; 0.5% on the next $15,000,000.

  • For all amounts above $25 million dollars, a reasonable compensation amount will be determined by the court.

  • It is important to note that when considering estate value for probate fees purposes in California only eligible assets are taken into account and not debts of the estate.

  • On top of statutory probate fees there are also other associated costs with probate such as Probate referee fees and court administration fees which can add up quickly.

  • In some cases where an attorney provides extraordinary services to an Estate beyond what is typically expected they may be entitled to additional compensation as approved by a judge following a hearing.

  • Most estates in California will have to go through some form of probate meaning they will incur these various types of associated costs but there are ways to avoid this process altogether if properly planned ahead.

Need help with probate?

If you need help understanding how statutory probate fees, court filing fees, or extraordinary attorney services in California work and what might be owed to you as the estate executor or beneficiary, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation call where we are able guide you and answer any questions you might have about probate.

We are here to help make this process as smooth and stress-free for you as possible.

Clear Now Hero

We make probate easy during hard times.

Probate Checklist Join the 10,000+ executors who have downloaded our free 12-step blueprint to probate

Download your free 12-step probate checklist written by an estate professional ($197 value)

Download Now