What is Probate?

Above all, Probate is the court’s approximately one to two-year process of administering a decedent’s estate. First, probate requires someone (the “petitioner”) to ask the court that he or she be appointed personal representative of the decedent’s estate. On one hand, a petitioner who is also named in a will as the personal representative is called the executor. Concurrently, the petitioner lodges the original will with the court for safekeeping. In contrast, If there is no will, then the California Probate Code provides a list of persons who have priority to petition to become the administrator.

Furthermore, the petitioner notifies the heirs and/or relatives about the first hearing. As a result, if there are objections to the petition, or if the validity of the will is otherwise contested, the judge will certainly set hearings to resolve the issues. Similarly, for more complex probate matters the judge will set evidentiary hearings allowing parties to subsequently produce evidence and present witnesses. Rather, in most cases there are no objections and the petition is granted. Moreover, the personal representative makes an inventory of the estate’s assets, locates creditors, pays bills, sells real property, and files tax returns. Consequently, when the personal representative completes his or her probate duties, he or she files a final petition requesting distribution of estate assets to the proper beneficiaries.

How much does it cost?

Most noteworthy, California Probate Code Section 10810 sets the maximum statutory fees that attorneys can charge. Accordingly, higher fees can be ordered by a court for more difficult cases. Specifically, the fees are four percent of the first $100,000 of the estate, then three percent of the next $100,000, then two percent of the next $800,000, then one percent of the next $9,000,000, and then one-half percent of the next $15,000,000. Furthermore, for probate estates larger than $25,000,000, the court will determine the fee for the amount that is greater than $25,000,000.

For example, the fees listed below are the statutory fees used to compensate attorneys and personal representatives in probate cases for various sizes of estates. Also, if both the attorney and the personal representative receive a fee,  then the amount paid will be double that shown below.

Estate Value Statutory Fee
$100,000 $4,000
$200,000 $7,000
$300,000 $9,000
$400,000 $11,000
$500,000 $13,000
$600,000 $15,000
$700,000 $17,000
$800,000 $19,000
$900,000 $21,000
$1,000,000 $23,000
$2,000,000 $33,000


Additionally, the probate court costs charged by the Superior Court vary depending on the nature of the assets of the estate. In sum, Court costs can run anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000.

Optional Virtual Probate Experience

All Los Angeles Superior Court probate matters occur at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA, consequently, if a resident of Valencia, CA, dies, the Probate will be handled downtown, not where the decedent lived or died. Fortunately, my partners and I have practiced probate law downtown for over 40 years and as a result we know and understand the system. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for some clients to come from other parts of California to Santa Monica. Therefore, as your virtual probate attorney we will provide you with all of the care and attention we do with clients that come our office, except that some or all meetings will be conducted via proprietary video conference and we will exchange thoughts, ideas and documents electronically. Additionally, we will attend hearings and manage the case without you ever having to step foot in a courtroom.  We also can handle cases throughout California.

Virtual Probate Process

  • First, schedule and attend a free webcam consultation.
  • Second, share thoughts and ideas with your lawyer electronically.
  • Then, review probate documents online with your attorney.
  • Alternatively, you may meet your attorney in-person.
  • Finally, sign documents at our office, at home or at work.

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