How Much Does Probate Cost?
Houston Estate Planning Attorney
After someone dies, their estate needs to be settled. Debts and taxes must be paid, as well as distributions to heirs. This is often accomplished via a court-supervised process called probate. Despite the fact that probate is quite widespread in Texas, there are often many questions concerning it. The bulk of these questions is motivated by the need to know what the cost of probate is in Texas. So, how much does probate court cost?
There are a number of probate costs you could incur during the probate process, including attorney fees, court fees, and others, and the actual cost of probate is determined by:
- State laws and local requirements
- The size or complexity of the estate
- Whether or not there’s a will
- If the will is deemed invalid or is contested
- If you hire outside experts, like an estate attorney or accountant
Making an estate plan can be a daunting and difficult task. It is best to get legal assistance from our competent Houston estate planning attorney at Chargois Harper to ease the burden of the estate planning process. Our estate planning law firm can assist you in writing down your wishes for incapacity and death. We will work with you to develop an effective estate plan that complies with Texas and federal estate planning regulations. We will explain the many estate planning options and help you in choosing the best one for you.
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What is Probate?
The probate process is proving what you own, what you are owed, and who should get the remaining property after debts are paid, in accordance with your Will or if you did not write one, a court decision of your heirs and their rightful shares.
In most Texas counties, an attorney is needed for probate. The law office of Chargois Harper can help you in settling your affairs in a smooth and fast way, whether with a Will, an Affidavit of Small Estate, or a Determination of Heirship.
What About Taxes?
Many people get probate and estate taxes mixed up. The federal estate tax exemption was historically as low as $600,000, but it reached $11.4 million in 2019. There is no estate or inheritance tax in Texas. Unless you have a beneficiary in one of the four states that impose an inheritance tax, neither your estate nor its beneficiaries will pay tax.
What is the Cost of Making A Will?
A basic Mom and Pop Will, in which couples leave everything they own to each other if they survive, or to their adult children if the survivor dies, is unlikely to cost more than $750 per person. Even if trust provisions for potential minor beneficiaries are included in the Will, the cost is expected to be roughly $1,000 per person.
How Much Does Probate Court Cost if there is a Will?
If a deceased owned real estate or other valuable assets, his or her surviving family members will have to go through a probate process. In Texas, the cost of probate would likely range from $750 to $1,500 in attorneys’ fees if the dead had a Will providing for independent administration, which is common for lawyers to include in a Will. In Texas, court fees average about $380. A more complex estate may incur somewhat higher legal expenses, although fees over $2,500 are unlikely.
How Much Does Probate Court Cost if there is No Will?
If a person dies without a Will and owns real estate or other valuable assets that haven’t been transferred by beneficiary designations, the assets will need to be transferred at some point through the administration of the estate or a similar process.
If you die without a Will (intestate), there are several potential difficulties regarding how your assets will be handled. Even in the most basic scenario, your family would face fines and charges totaling $2,500 to $3,000. On average, fees and expenditures for more complicated estates will certainly surpass $5,000.
If all potential legal heirs cannot agree on how to settle the inheritance, an application to determine heirship and for estate administration may be required, which might cost $6,500 or more. These are simply rough estimates for Texas and might be considerably higher depending on the situation.
Clearly, making a Will is the sensible approach to managing your estate. Failure to do so will wind up costing several times the cost of a Will, and your heirs will have to deal with the payment out of their own wallets or from the estate if there is enough money available. Each state’s probate process is unique. You should hire an attorney in the decedent’s native state to manage the estate’s probate administration. If you want to discuss creating a Will or other estate planning documents in Texas, contact Chargois Harper Attorneys and Counselors at Law for a consultation.
What are the Texas Court Filing Fees?
The costs will differ from county to county across Texas, ranging from $1 for copies and going up to $335 for a combined application for administration and heirship determination.
Notice Publication Fees
Throughout many states, the executor of a will is required to publish the probate notice of the estate in any general circulation newspaper. The executor will generally pay about $200 to have the notice of probate published in a local newspaper or publication.
Executor and Attorney Fees
The charge may vary from what’s considered a fair set fee to a percentage of the estate’s worth. The overall attorney’s costs can be as little as $3,000 or much greater, depending on the work required, the complexity, and so on.
Personal representatives or executors may request “extraordinary fees” for services that go above and beyond what is considered standard probate services.
Your probate attorney will be engaged in the following tasks in Texas dependent administration:
- Making appearances in court
- Filing of the bond
- Obtaining court approval for claims settlement and selling of assets
- Other tasks that may be needed
Furthermore, before they may be appointed, your executor or personal representative must pay for and deposit a court-determined bond. This is usually covered by the estate.
Accounting costs for a Texas probate will vary depending on the valuation of the estate and assets owned.
If federal taxes must be paid, accounting costs must also cover the preparation and filing of tax returns. If the attorney does the preparation and filing of the returns, such costs are included in the attorney fees.
Fees for Appraisals and Business Valuations
Probate will need date-of-death valuations for personal property, business interests, and real estate.
Personal property appraisal costs could vary. Typically, the charge ranges from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, whereas company valuation costs might range from several thousand to several thousand dollars.
Miscellaneous costs may include but are not limited to, shipping and storing personal property, and postage. These expenses might likely include a 40% federal estate tax on estates valued at more than $5.34 million.
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