In Probate proceedings, attorney’s fees are set by statute. California’s Probate Code §10810 prescribes attorney’s fees based on the of the gross value of the estate assets. The value of the estate assets will be determined by the estate’s personal representative and with the assistance of appraisers. The statutorily established attorney’s fees are:
- 4% of the first $100,000.00
- 3% of the next $100,000.00
- 2% of the next $800,000.00
- 1% of the next $9,000,000.00
- ½% of the next $15,000,000.00
For estates with assets valued at over $25,000,000.00, the court will determine a reasonable amount for attorney’s fees for the amount over $25,000,000.00.
So, for example, if an estate’s assets are valued at $1,000,000.00, then the statutory attorney’s fees would be: 4% of $100,000.00 = $4,000.00; 3% of $100,000.00 = $3,000.00; 2% of $800,000.00 = $16,000.00; For a total of $23,000.00.
When the probate proceedings become more complicated than usual, a court is authorized to allow additional, “extraordinary” attorney’s fees for the work done to resolve those complexities. Usually, a court will order extraordinary fees when additional litigation becomes necessary, such as when there is a will contest, a dispute over the ownership of property, or enforcing the estate’s rights outside of the probate proceeding itself. The amount of such extraordinary fees is usually billed by the hour, and will be ordered by the court based on a number of factors, like the value of the estate’s assets, the difficulty of the tasks performed, the time spent on the tasks, the results achieved, and whether there was a discernible benefit to the estate.