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By: Scott Grossman on September 14th, 2016

Hire A Certified Probate Specialist

Does it cost more to hire a certified probate specialist than a general practice attorney?

California executors can hire a certified probate specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law for the same cost as a general practice lawyer. This video explains how a quirk in California’s Probate Code leads to the public being able to get more for less.

When you are considering hiring an attorney to handle a California probate case, one of the decisions you will have to make is whether to seek out a California Certified Probate Specialist. Attorneys with this designation have met stringent mandatory practice requirements and have passed an exam (in addition to the regular Bar exam.) Of the tens of thousands of attorneys currently practicing law in California, fewer than a thousand total are Specialists.

As part of the decision making process, you will probably be wondering whether Certified Specialists cost more. In the case of probate, the answer is simple, and surprising: no!

In California, probate fees are governed by probate law according to a fee schedule. Attorney fees are determined by the total value of the estate. Attorneys are paid 4% for the first $100,000 of estate value, 3% for the next $100,000, and 2% for the next $800,000. After $1 million, the fee lowers to 1%.

What this means to the consumer is that whether you hire an attorney who dabbles in probate in addition to several other practice areas, or a Certified Specialist who focuses his career on probate, you will pay the same amount.

An exception to the fee schedule, however, is in the case of “extraordinary fees.” Some examples of extraordinary fees are a case involving probate litigation, or the sale of real estate in which one of the beneficiaries is creating difficulties so the matter becomes very complicated and the transaction must be court-supervised.

In these cases, a probate attorney may ask the court for extraordinary fees, and attorneys who can demonstrate to the judge that they have greater expertise and experience court be granted higher fees by the judge.

But in general, extraordinary fees are just that: extraordinary. For the typical probate matter, this is truly the rare case of getting something with a great deal of value for the same price.

Administering an estate requires the guidance of an experienced probate attorney, and the Grossman Law Firm, A.P.C. is here to help. We regularly administer estates and appear on behalf of our probate clients in the Riverside probate court. For more information about the probate of estates and administration of trusts in California, request our free book The Insider’s Guide to California Probate and Trust Administration. If you suspect that your rights are not being protected, request our free book The Ultimate Guide to California Trust and Probate Litigation which provides further information.