As an Orange County probate lawyer, I share the hard truth that probate is necessary when you die without proper estate planning if your assets exceed $150,000 in California.  And, that is gross assets value. So, if you own a home worth $700,000 with a $690,000 mortgage, the gross asset value is $700,000.

Add up everything you own. Now, take a look at the chart below. It shows the compensation that your personal representative and attorneys can request as set by California law. That compensation is also based on your estate’s gross asset value.

Gross Asset Value of Entire Estate

Estimated Compensation to Attorney and Personal Representation WITHOUT Proper Estate Planning Probate Fees WITH Proper Estate Planning


$22,000* $0













$3,000,000 $86,000*


$4,000,000 $106,000*


*This is not a tax. These are the maximum fees authorized by the California Probate Code, and this does not include special fees. One-half of these fees will go to an attorney and the other half will go to your Executor or Administrator.

Let’s take that same $700,000 gross asset value we described before. That means $34,000 of your hard-earned wealth will not go to your family if you don’t prepare an estate plan.

With a proper estate plan, your costs would be $0.

Please note that by “proper” I mean an estate plan that is prepared by an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to help you utilize legal tools such as Living Trusts that will keep your family out of the Orange County probate court when you pass away, which will also save your family time, money and taxes.

If you would like to speak to our Orange County probate and trust administration attorneys about how to create a plan that avoids these unnecessary costs, call our office at (949) 260-1400 and schedule a free consultation.