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How Expensive is Probate in California?

The filing fee for a California probate petition is about $500. Some counties add additional charges. Filing the petition for final distribution costs another about $500, varying by county. Other probate expenses include newspaper publication of the notice, the California probate referee, and the certification of court document copies.

The maximum fees that lawyers can charge for the probate process in California is set by California Probate Code § 10810. However, those fees can be increased by court order in more complex cases. The executor or administrator can also be paid for their administrative work up to the same amount in fee that the lawyer is allowed to receive. Also, if a probate in California is challenged with a tax problem or lawsuit, the executor or administrator and the lawyer can petition the court to permit higher fees than are otherwise set by the Probate Code.

The estate’s value is generally known through inventory of the estate’s assets and liabilities. Accounting of the estate may be waived, in which case the estate’s value for purpose of lawyer’s fees is the total inventory, plus receipts on sales, minus losses on sales. Notice that debts are not involved when calculating lawyer’s fees. This means, for example, that a house appraised at $1,500,000, yet has an outstanding mortgage balance of $1,000,000, still counts as a $1,500,000 asset when lawyer’s fees are determined.

For an initial consultation, contact T.S. Wrobel Law Group to speak with Thomas Wrobel for your probate needs. Call (415) 928-4161now for an initial consultation, or reach us by email at We look forward to assisting you.