This is a common and reasonable question, but it can also be a difficult one to answer without a more detailed look at the situation. A common rule of thumb is that total probate and estate administration costs tend to end up in the range of 2-8% of the estate. And while it might be tempting to think that a smaller estate will be on the lower end of that range, it often is an inverse relationship—for smaller estates, a large percentage may be spent on probate expenses because there are certain expenses and tasks that need to be handled even though it’s a smaller estate.
Here are some factors involved in the costs to administer a North Carolina probate:
First, depending upon the nature of your loved one’s estate, there are likely to be several professionals involved, including attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors. It is also common to involve appraisers for real estate or other property. And in some more complicated estates, it may be necessary to hire auctioneers, surveyors, business appraisers, or other professionals.
When hiring a professional, the Executor or Trustee should have a formal written engagement agreement with the professional that outlines the scope of services being provided by the professional.
Need Some Help? How We Do Things:
We understand people don’t like dealing with uncertainty and would prefer transparency. We try—when permitted— to quote such services on a flat fee basis, considering the nature of the Estate and what actions we expect will be needed to complete the Administration process.
In other instances, we may be required to work on an hourly billing basis—either because the rules in the county where the Estate Administration is occurring do not allow for flat fee billing, or because there are too many “unknown” factors for the law firm to be able to properly establish an appropriate flat fee rate. Occasionally we may recommend a hybrid of the two with part of the work to be completed on a flat fee basis and part to be completed on an hourly billing basis.
Carolina Family Estate Planning is available to help you with the estate administration process. Our process begins with an initial consultation that we call the “Information Gathering Meeting.” It’s an opportunity for you to gather some information about the law firm and our Estate Administration process while we gather additional information from you about your loved one’s estate. During the Information Gathering Meeting, we’ll give you a broad overview of what to expect during the Estate Administration process. Generally, near the conclusion of the Information Gathering Meeting, or shortly after the Information Gathering Meeting, we will provide you with a flat fee quote for assisting you with the Estate Administration process or a recommendation that the Estate Administration be handled on an hourly billing basis.
Losing a loved one is hard. The days and weeks after a loss are often fraught with grief, questions, and unfortunately, family complications. It’s a terrible time to try to think through a legal process clearly. It’s often a challenge just to know where to start. Maybe you’re not even sure what questions to ask and whom to ask. How do you know you’re getting good advice and doing it right? You could probably use some help. Our Understanding Estate Administration guide can help. This guide will give you an overview of the probate and estate administration process in plain English. Request your free copy here.