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When a loved one dies, their assets and their heirs must be identified. This process is called probate.

The probate process also ensures that the estate pays all of its outstanding debts. Depending on a case’s complexity, probate lawyers provide varying amounts of legal advice during the probate process.

Because the amount of needed advice changes from case to case, it’s not easy to give an average probate lawyer cost. Some probate attorneys bill by the hour, and some charge a flat fee.

So how much does a probate lawyer cost? The answer is that it varies.

Below, the probate lawyers at The Zimmerman Law Firm will discuss some factors to consider when deciding to hire a probate attorney. If you have questions, please contact us today.

What Factors Affect the Cost of Probate?

Any fees or costs associated with probating an estate reduce the amount the beneficiaries will receive, so it makes sense to minimize that amount as much as possible.

Under Texas law, probate fees are based on several factors, including the size of the estate, the values of personal property, the complexity of the probate proceedings, and the services provided by the personal administrator or the probate attorney. 

Non-Probate Assets

When calculating estate value, non-probate assets—such as life insurance policies, payable-on-death accounts, survivor’s benefits, joint tenancy property, and community property—are not part of the valuation.

Personal Property

In most cases, with or without a will, an estate will have assets. Texas law contains a long list of what constitutes personal property, including home furnishings, tools, equipment, and firearms.

During probate, certain personal property will remain with the decedent’s family. The property is set aside for use until the estate administration is complete.

At that time, if the estate is solvent, the property then passes to the heirs via provisions in the decedent’s will or via intestate succession laws if there is no will.

If the estate is insolvent, the surviving spouse or child keeps the set-aside property, even if such property is gifted to someone else by will or intestacy. 

Small Estate Affidavit for Estates Under $75,000

A small estate affidavit can replace probate if an estate in Texas is valued at less than $75,000 and there is no will.

Even if a small estate goes through probate, it can be resolved in a month or so. And faster probate usually means fewer fees.

On the other hand, an estate valued at more than $75,000 will likely go through probate and can sometimes take years to resolve, making it a costly process.

What Are Some Common Probate Fees?

Even though probate costs can fluctuate, a few fees are common in most proceedings. You’ll likely have to pay some or all of the following:

  • Court filing fees;
  • The executor or personal representative’s compensation;
  • Notice publication costs;
  • The bond of the executor to pay for debts, taxes, and distributions to the estate;
  • Attorney fees for transferring title of assets, addressing any disputes among beneficiaries or issues in interpreting the terms of the will;
  • Appraisal fees; and
  • Tax preparation fees.

Whoever is in charge of executing the estate shouldn’t have to pay out of their pocket for these costs.

Some wills even allow the executor to get paid “reasonable compensation” from the estate in exchange for working with the probate lawyer, attending probate hearings, and otherwise handling the decedent’s financial affairs.

Attorney’s Fees

Probate lawyer fees in Texas typically range from 1% to 7% of the estate’s total value. The actual cost depends on factors like the complexity of the case and the amount of work required.

Attorneys can bill by the hour or use a flat fee system. Either way, when you interview the attorney, ask about their fee system.

The attorney should be able to give you an estimate of how much their services will cost, whether it’s an hourly fee or a flat fee.

A flat fee is a little more predictable because no one can know exactly how many hours your case will take before the attorney dives into it.

So if the attorney quotes an hourly rate, you will want to ask them how many hours they think the case will take to complete.

You will also want to ask if any costs that are not covered by the quoted fee. This will give you a ballpark estimate of the total lawyer cost for your case. 

Contact Top Probate Lawyers in Texas

Probate lawyers advise their clients on the best way to proceed, depending on the circumstances of their particular case.

Statewide, the Zimmerman Law Firm can provide peace of mind and guidance throughout the probate process. Contact us online or call 254-252-3590 today.

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Michael Zimmerman

Michael was born in Houston, Texas. His education at Baylor and Texas State Universities earned him a Bachelor of Science degree in 1987. His major was in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry. He finished his legal education at Texas Southern University in 1990, earning a Juris Doctorate from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1990.

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