Even though there are some differences with probate costs across the state, there are some fairly common fees you should expect to pay as you navigate the probate process. Many parts of the probate administration process benefit from the experience of an estate professional. Most probate cases in California are handled under the state's Independent Probate Administration Act, which allows the executor to handle most matters without having to obtain permission from the probate court. The legal fee schedule referenced below is a breakdown of California legal compensation for lawyers and personal representatives in probate cases for various sizes of properties.
In California, probate is not a particularly onerous process, and there are several legal shortcuts that allow many families to avoid probate court altogether after the death of a loved one. We recommend finding an experienced probate attorney who is familiar with the probate court of the county in which the deceased lived. Probate costs can vary, depending on whether you manage the estate yourself, with the help of a legal assistant, or if you choose to work with an estate attorney who will do everything for you. The average cost of estate in California can't really be determined in an inclusive way unless you know several things, which is one of the reasons why it can be so helpful to understand the probate process in its entirety.
For more than 25 years, the best source of guidance for conducting probate proceedings without an attorney (or as a reference if you hire an attorney) is How to Test an Estate in California by Julia Nissley and Lisa Fialco (Nolo). Yes, as the executor of the estate, you are entitled to the same legal payment as the probate lawyer. The total probate costs, paid by the decedent's estate, will be your payment plus the probate attorney's payment. Therefore, probate arbitrators are used to assess equity and determine the fair market value of the assets involved in the estate action.
There will also be miscellaneous charges, such as publication of the probate notice, fees associated with the probate arbitrator, and fees for certified copies of court documents. Most of the costs associated with probate, including probate attorney fees in California, are paid out of the estate before any distribution is made to the heirs.