Expenses of Probate Administration

Feb 27, 2014 by

Many people do not realize that a Last Will & Testament must be probated by the court following their death. This process can be lengthy and often runs from at least six months up to several years before all of the property is finally distributed. Additionally, the process can incur significant fees that may deplete the estate’s assets. Careful planning in advance can help ensure that your assets will be distributed quickly and efficiently following your death.

Through the probate process, a personal representative or executor must be appointed to manage your estate while it is being probated. One of the first duties of the personal representative is to complete an inventory of the estate detailing every asset that is to be distributed. Then, the estate must publish notice in the newspaper announcing to any creditors that they may file a claim against your estate for any past due bills. After the publication, the estate must remain open for a minimum of six months to allow creditors time to file their claims. Once all of the claims are filed, the personal representative must determine which claims should be paid and which need not be. After the claims are paid, property may need to be liquidated if it cannot be distributed in its present form.

Although a good attorney can handle many of the details of the probate process, the personal representative or executor must still participate in reviewing and approving documents for the court. Because of the waiting periods and court schedule, most probate cases take approximately nine to fourteen months to resolve. However, large estates may take longer, while smaller estates may be completed in a more timely fashion.

In addition to the length of the process, many people are concerned with the expenses associated with probate administration. Along with court fees and publication costs, both the personal representative and estate attorney are entitled to a statutory percentage under Missouri law. This percentage is based upon the value of all of the assets of the estate that are involved in the probate process. An example of these fees is provided below:

Example 1 (Estate Value of $150,000)

 

Personal Representative Fee

Estate Attorney Fee

For the first $5,000 (5%)

$250

$250

For the next $20,000 (4%)

$800

$800

For the next $75,000 (3%)

$2,250

$2,250

For the next $300,000 (2.75%)

$1,375

$1,375

Total Fees:

$4,675

$4,675

Total Fees Paid by Estate:

$9,350

In Example 1, an estate of $150,000 in assets is a reasonably modest estate. It may include a house, a vehicle or two, a small pension or other bank accounts and miscellaneous person property. However, the fees paid during the administration of such a modest estate quickly become rather substantial during the probate process. And of course, in larger estates, the expenses of probate administration can become even higher.

Although there are some benefits to probate administration, many people prefer to utilize other methods to distribute their property to save the time and money of their heirs. If you would prefer to have your assets distributed without the hassle of the probate process, you should discuss your wishes with your attorney. He or she can provide you with valuable insights and help you ensure that your property will be distributed following your wishes in the most efficient way possible.

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