July 30, 2019

Probate Fees

An attorney can be awarded 2 fees for handling a probate. 

First the attorney can receive ordinary fees for handling the typical duties that entail probate, e.g. filing the petition to open probate, filing the petition to close probate, making court appearances, notifying heirs and beneficiaries, etc. This fee is based off of the value of the estate. Below is the fee calculation for an estate up to $1M.

Estate Value            Ordinary Fee 

$100,000                   $4,000 

$200,000                   $7,000 

$300,000                   $9,000 

$400,000                   $11,000 

$500,000                   $13,000 

$600,000                   $15,000 

$700,000                   $17,000 

$800,000                   $19,000 

$900,000                   $21,000 

$1,000,000                $23,000  

Second, an attorney can be awarded extraordinary fees for certain matters. The most common example of this is the sale of real estate. It is common for a probate estate to own real estate. Invariably the decision will be made to sell that real estate. Rarely do heirs or beneficiaries want to form a business entity to manage a property together. Under such a scenario, the attorney can be awarded an ordinary fee and an extraordinary fee.

However, extraordinary fees are not automatic. You can't always get what you want........

"If, under all the relevant circumstances, the amount awarded as ordinary compensation is fair and reasonable for all the attorney services, the court may disallow a request for extraordinary compensation even though some extraordinary services have been performed." Estate of Trynin (1989) 49 Cal.3d 868, 874.   

In a recent unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeal addressed the reduction of extraordinary fees awarded to a probate attorney. The attorney had requested $27,510 in extraordinary fees. The trial court reduced the extraordinary fees to $3,399. On appeal, the appellate court upheld this decision. San Francisco Superior Court case # PES14297788.