A comprehensive estate plan should include tools and strategies aimed at accomplishing various interrelated goals. For many people, probate avoidance is one of those goals. Along with the time it takes to get an estate through the probate process, the cost of probate is a primary reason to include probate avoidance strategies in your estate plan. To further explain, the Indianapolis probate attorneys at Frank & Kraft explain some common probate fees in Indiana.
Most people leave behind an estate when they die that consists of all assets, both tangible and intangible, owned by the decedent at the time of death. Probate is the legal process by which those assets are identified, located, valued, and eventually distributed to the intended beneficiaries and/or legal heirs of the estate. Creditors of your estate are also entitled to be notified of your death and allowed to file claims against your estate during probate. Likewise, if someone who has the legal standing to do so believes that the Last Will and Testament submitted for probate is invalid, that individual can challenge the Will by initiating a Will contest that must be resolved before assets can be passed down to heirs and/or beneficiaries.
The costs involved in probating an estate can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the value and complexity of the estate assets, the skills and abilities of the Executor or Personal Representative (the person administering the estate), and whether the estate becomes involved in litigation. Nevertheless, it helps to understand some of the possible fees involved in probating an estate so you can better understand why avoiding probate should be one of your estate planning goals. Common probate fees include:
- Court fees. Like most states, payment of a fee is required to initiate the probate of an estate in Indiana. A $231 fee must be paid for the “opening of any estate of one document or more, including, but not limited to, petitions and orders to open safe-deposit box; to enter rooms and places; for the determination of heirs; but not to include issuance of letters or order of summary and family administration.” Summary administration for an estate valued at less than $1,000 will cost $235 while an estate valued at more than $1,000 requires a fee of $345. To initiate formal administration a fee of $400 is required. Additional fees may apply.
- Executor/Personal Representative fees. The person who oversees the administration of an estate, either the Executor appointed in a Will, or someone appointed in an intestate estate, is entitled to a reasonable fee for their services. The amount of that fee will depend on how long it takes to probate the estate as well as how complex the probate process is.
- Appraisal and other professional costs. If any of the estate assets need to be appraised (something that often happens), the estate may need to pay professional appraisal fees. Other professionals may also need to be paid.
- Accountant fees. If the estate assets are valuable and/or complex, it may be necessary to hire a professional accountant which means the estate will incur accountant fees.
- Maintenance costs. While probate is going on, probate assets must be secured and maintained. Those expenses may be relatively minor if the assets are things such as bank and investment accounts; however, they could add up if the assets involved are things such as real property or a business.
- Attorney fees. If the Executor/PR retains a probate attorney to help probate the estate, that attorney is entitled to a reasonable fee for his/her services. If the probate becomes complicated or is involved in litigation, those fees can be significant; however, they are typically capped at a percentage of the value of the estate.
- Litigation fees. If someone contests the Will, or a creditor challenges a denial of a claim, the estate will become involved in litigation. The costs involved in litigation can be significant.
Contact Indianapolis Probate Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding the probate of an estate, contact the experienced Indianapolis probate attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.
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