At the Norman Law Firm we understand that probate and will procedures are complex and that you will need an experienced attorney to navigate you through these proceedings during difficult times. Probate, by definition, is the process of determining the rights and obligations of a person’s legal and financial matters after their death. Probate serves as a way to transfer assets, resolve debts and clear titles so the decedent’s assets can be properly allocated to the rightful heirs. It can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Typically, for estates larger than $100,000, court supervision may be required to oversee the process and approve distributions.
The distribution to beneficiaries or rightful heirs will follow the decedent’s Will, or, if no Will exists, distribution will follow the state-relevant intestate laws.
FOR YOUR BENEFIT
What is the cost of probate?
The cost of probate depends on the size of the estate, but can vary depending on the complexity of administration. For example in Maryland the Probate Code sets the maximum fees attorneys can charge for a probate; however, a probate court can order higher fees for cases that are litigated or more complicated, such as those involving tax problems, real estate sales, etc. For probates within the normal process, the fees are four percent of the first $100,000 of the gross value of the estate, three percent of the next $100,000, two percent of the next $800,000, one percent of the next $9,000,000, and one-half percent of the next $15,000,000. For estates larger than $25,000,000, the court will determine a reasonable fee.
Appraisal of the Estate
A licensed appraiser or a probate referee does the appraisal of an estate to determine the fair market value of the real and personal property assets. The fair market value does not include mortgages and other debts. Thus, a $500,000 home with a mortgage of $499,000 is still valued at $500,000 for attorney and executor fees. Probate referees receive a fee based on 0.1 percent of the assets they appraise.
In addition to the statutory fees for attorneys, there are costs for appraisal fees, publication costs, court filing fees, and miscellaneous fees charged by the county. A typical estate could easily incur $1,000 to $3,000 in court costs and other mandated fees.
Advantages of Probate:
- One of the main advantages of probate is that a judge may supervise the proceedings and thereby protects all beneficiaries’ rights. The judge can settle disputes between beneficiaries or between beneficiaries and the executor. There is the assurance that the decedent’s estate will be distributed according to their Will or by state-relevant intestate laws, if no will exists.
- In most cases, the executor is required to prepare an accounting and report of all activities.
- There is a cut-off period for any creditor’s claims. Any known creditor must be given notice of the probate. They have four months to file their claims. Generally, if they do not file within the specified time period, their claim is barred forever. After probate, the beneficiaries can have peace of mind knowing the assets they received are free from any future claims or actions.
- There is no probate cost until death. Therefore, the decedent does not incur any cost during his or her lifetime, in contrast to a living trust, in which the costs are paid at the time of creation and can cost several hundreds of dollars. In probate, all costs and fees are paid after death out of the estate before anything is transferred to the heirs.
Whatever your circumstances the attorneys at The Elton Norman Law Firm will provide you with legal guidance and assistance in selecting the best method of handling your probate matters. We have extensive experience with probate and estate planning for families and individuals. The firm’s attorneys have a thorough understanding of the intricate nature of the Maryland and Washington, DC law and the skill only decades of experience can bring to adeptly handling complex probate administration and litigation matters. Our services are centered around family values.
We assist clients with a variety of services, including:
- Revocable trusts and wills
- Durable powers of attorney
- Health care powers of attorney and living wills
- Life insurance trusts
- Charitable trusts
- Planning for qualified plan and IRA assets
- Minors’ trusts
- Family limited partnerships
- Succession planning for a closely held business
- Estate and trust administration advice
- Preparation of federal and state estate tax returns
- Distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
Don’t hesitate to call our offices for a FREE appointment at 301- 588-4888 or 202-508-1442. You will be sure to sit down with one of our experienced Probate and Wills attorneys who will learn about your exact situation and provide advice catered specifically to you.