Attorneys’ Fees and Costs Associated with Probate

When discussing benefits of a Revocable Trust, one subject often covered is the potential to avoid Attorneys’ Fees and Costs associated with Probate.  Simply put, if a person dies without a Trust or other proper Estate Planning, as covered here, Probate will generally be necessary to pass assets to the heirs of the decedent.  (Note – Arkansas Law allows for a “Small Estate” Procedure for Estates under $100,000, to be covered in a future post on this Blog).  Probate involves the initiation of a Court proceeding, filed in Circuit Court in the county of death.  A Judge is appointed to the case, and the Arkansas Probate Code mandates the process pursuant to which assets are collected and distributed to heirs and/or creditors of the Estate.

Under Arkansas Law, both the Personal Representative (the party named in your Will or appointed by the Court to handle your Estate) and the Attorney may be awarded a fee for the work associated with the Probate.  (See here for a copy of the applicable Arkansas Law authorizing fees and costs associated with Probate).   In the event of a $200,000 Estate, the applicable allowable Attorneys’ Fee is $6,050.  For a $400,000 Estate, the allowable fee can reach $11,550.  Again, this is in addition to the fee allowed for your Personal Representative.  Filing fees in excess of several hundred dollars are also associated with opening the case, publishing notice to creditors, etc.   Alternatively, a Trust can be established for a fraction of the cost, which avoids Probate entirely and provides additional benefits as discussed elsewhere in this Blog.