What Is the Cost of Probate?

What is the cost of probate? The cost varies on the size and nature of the estate. Unlike that of some other states, Washington state law does not provide for the amount of commission or fees to be based on the value of the estate.

Probate law covers what happens with a deceased person’s property after death. The assets (possessions and wealth) are the decedent’s “estate.” While not required in all situations, if you’re the estate’s personal representative, it would be wise to follow the probate process. If executed properly, it can be a form of liability protection. It should ensure that the estate’s property is appropriately used to pay debts, costs, and taxes with the remainder distributed to heirs.

How Much Does Probate Cost?

While considering the cost of probate in Washington state, think about the information below regarding fixed and potential costs that you can anticipate when engaged in the probate process.  All fees are approximate.

Fixed Costs

  • Superior Court filing fee: $200
  • Publication of Probate Notice to Creditors: $100
  • Out-of-pocket expenses (copying, mailing, etc.): $50
  • Total fixed costs = $350 or more (depends on the county of publication)

Potential Costs (Commissions and Fees)

  • Personal Representative’s commissions: This fee may be waived if an heir or beneficiary performs the job, but an executor can receive just and reasonable compensation for their efforts. The court overseeing the process will want to see records of the executor’s time spent on the estate and what they were doing. There’s no set hourly rate. A court may look at the complexity or difficulty of what was done and the skills or expertise the person brought to the task when judging what should be paid. If a court determines the personal representative failed to discharge his or her duties, the person may deny or reduce the compensation.
  • Appraiser’s fees: Hiring an estate appraiser may be necessary, depending on the nature of the estate. The personal representative must maximize the value of the estate, which is possible only if that value is known. An appraiser can be used to give an educated estimate of the value of the real estate, jewelry, antiques, collectibles, and a business owned by the deceased. It wouldn’t be wise to put items of value up for sale without knowing what a fair price would be.
  • Accountant’s fees: Retaining an accountant may be necessary, given the nature and complexity of the estate. Know when you might be getting in over your head when it comes to keeping track of the estate’s books, especially if accounting and business math are not your strong points. A personal representative could be held personally liable for financially mismanaging an estate, so get professional help if you feel the need.

What is the cost of probate? In sum, an individual engaged in the probate process can anticipate spending a minimum of $350 in fixed costs, plus commissions and fees. In Washington, commissions and fees are generally based on hours worked and must be approved by the court.

What Are the Attorney’s Fees for Probate?

Legal help may not be necessary for the simplest probate matters, but get help legal help if you have questions about the process or what you should do. A personal representative could face possible liability if he or she is accused of not doing the job correctly. The cost of attorney’s fees for probate could be considered the price of protecting yourself and the estate from possible legal challenges.

A court should accept the payment of just and reasonable attorney’s fees. Those fees must be only for reasonably necessary work; work shouldn’t be unnecessarily repeated. Time spent by attorneys should reflect how complex the matter is, and they shouldn’t bill for the time that should have been spent by less costly staff members.

Do You Have Questions or Concerns About the Cost of Probate in Washington State?

If you want to know how much probate costs or have concerns about it, consult with one of our probate law attorneys who can evaluate your situation, give you some options and suggest what might work for you and your family. For more information or to discuss your concerns about probate in Washington state, call our offices in Seattle or Tacoma today for your free consultation at (253) 358-8473. We look forward to working with you.