Probate refers to the legal procedures handled by the courts in order to direct the distribution of assets after a death. While probate proceedings are routine, they can become complicated, especially in the absence of a Last Will and Testament. For this reason, many beneficiaries seek the consultation and assistance of a probate lawyer.
Probate costs vary depending on the value of the estate but usually include accounting, appraisal, court, attorney, bond, and executor fees. A complicated estate or disagreements among heirs can also increase costs. Because probate laws and fees vary by state, it is important to understand the specifics differences.
Here are 5 states with the highest costs:
Effective January 1, 2015, the Connecticut Governor’s budget eliminated all funding for their probate court system. In an effort to compensate for this roughly $32 million dollar shortfall, the cap on probate fees in the state has been removed and Connecticut now ranks as the most expensive state in the nation with respect to probate costs.
2. New York
Because New York probate law states that attorney fees charged for probate procedures are based on a “reasonable compensation” standard, these fees can vary widely. Court expenses range from $215 to $1,250, attorney and executor fees can be 2.5% to 5%, and probate costs vary from 2% to 7% or more.
Michigan’s regular probate costs by themselves aren’t horrendous, but the process can be a hassle if the estate is not in trust. The Michigan Department of Treasury requires you to file of a property tax affidavit in the event of property transfer. According to a probate lawyer in Michigan, this document has to be filed whenever real estate or some types of personal property are transferred within 45 days, or you incur a $200 penalty.
In some states, California included, attorneys are allowed by law to collect probate fees based on a graduating percentage of the estate’s value. These fees can become excessive when the rates are determined based on the gross value rather than the actual value. If a client was charged per hour for probate services, in some instances, the fee would be significantly less.
Wyoming, like California, is among one of the 7 states that allows for percentage-based fees. Beginning at 10%, the fees decrease until reaching a minimum of 2% of the balance. Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, and Montana are structured in a like manner though their beginning fee percentages are lower.
Regardless of the state of your residence, procuring a probate lawyer ensures that you will receive professional counsel throughout the entire legal process.