As with most aspects of probate and estate planning, the answer depends on many factors, such as which state you live in, the size of the estate in question and the type of estate planning that may have been done. There are some general categories of fees and expenses that you can expect, however. Those include court fees, appraisal fees, executor fees and attorney fees. Some of these costs are either set or limited by your state’s statutes. It is generally estimated that probate costs will be somewhere around 5-10% of your spouse’s gross estate, which is everything he or she owns.
Some Common Expenses
Court fees for filing certain petitions and other legal documents can range from $250 to $350, which includes the cost of filing a will with the Probate Court and publishing the Notice of Death in the local newspaper, as required. If there is real estate included in the estate which does not pass automatically to you as a spouse, an appraisal will need to be completed by a certified appraiser. Those fees normally run around $400.
Executor or Administrator fees
The executor is the person you name in your will to oversee your property during the probate process. If you do not have a will, the judge will appoint an administrator to serve in the same capacity. The executor or administrator is entitled to be paid for their service. However, most often, when family or close friends are named as executor, they tend not to charge a fee.
There is a predetermined fee schedule for executors, based on the value of the estate that is passing through probate. The schedule in Arkansas is as follows:
- 10% of the first $1,000
- 5% of the next $4,000, and
- 3% of the balance.
Similarly, attorney fees are determined by a statutory fee schedule.
Attorney fees for probate work
Attorneys also have a fee schedule, established by Arkansas statute. As with the executor, the attorney fee is based on the gross value of the estate. The schedule is as follows:
- 5% of the first $5,000
- 4% of the next $20,000
- 3% of the next $75,000
- 2 ¾% of the next $300,000
- 2 ½% of the next $600,000
- 2% of the balance
If the attorney is required to do additional work, such as handling a will contest, the fees may be more than those listed in the schedule.
Your spouse’s estate is subject to federal estate tax. However, the federal estate tax exemption for 2014 is $5,340,000. That means that only the amount of the estate that exceeds $5.34 million will be taxed. According to U.S. Census figures, the median annual income for Arkansas residents is $40,531. The likelihood that many Arkansas citizens will be required to pay estate taxes is probably slight.
Probate Process in Fayetteville: Legal Assistance and Guidance
Some states also impose an estate or inheritance tax. Arkansas does not impose this tax. Actually, only 20 states do: Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington. If you have questions about the probate process in Fayetteville, Arkansas or the specific costs that would apply to your situation, contact Sexton, Bailey Attorneys, PA either online or by calling (479) 443-0062.