How Much Does Probate Cost in Oklahoma?
Costs in probate cases include:
Attorney’s fees, which can vary widely depending on the case;
Fees of accountants, real estate agents and appraisers (necessary in some cases but not others); and
Probate is what happens when, after a person dies, the person’s heirs file a petition in court, asking the judge to order a division of the deceased person’s property. Many people, when they know probate might be necessary, wonder: How much does probate cost?
One of the most important costs, that need to be paid in probate, is attorney’s fees. With every client, my first meeting is free. After the first meeting, I (like most attorneys) bill by the hour – thus, the more hours spent on a case, the more you pay.
But, because every case is different, and because every case takes a different amount of time and work to handle, the attorney’s fees you pay in any given probate case can vary widely. For this reason, I never tell a client how much his total fees will be. For further information as to why I cannot tell you how much your fees will likely be, click on my post “How Much Does an Immigration Lawyer Cost?”. Although that post is about immigration lawyers, the information there about why legal fees can vary widely in immigration cases, applies to probate cases as well.
If the probate case is contested – that is, if someone else files a motion disputing how the estate is to be distributed, or who the heirs are, or who the executor is – then the case will usually require more time, and will therefore be far more costly. If a contested probate case is appealed to a higher court, then, fees for the appeal will be very costly. However, the vast majority of probate cases are not contested, and even fewer are appealed.
Often, in a probate case, the court will order that the lawyer’s fees are to be paid out of the funds of the estate. If this occurs in your case, then, you will not pay anything personally (of course, if you or anyone else inherits from the estate, the amount you inherit will be lower, because a portion went to pay the attorney’s fees).
Other Professional Expenses in Probate
In some probate cases, there are other expenses besides lawyers’ fees. Some probate cases are complex enough to require an accountant to assist in managing the estate – you would then have to pay the accountant his fees. Also, if you need to sell property of the estate (which often happens in probate cases) then, you may need to pay the costs of the real estate sale. You also may need to hire appraisers. Fees for these other professionals can also vary widely – if you even need to hire them at all, which you may not.
As with attorney’s fees, the court will often order that the fees of other professionals (such as accountants, real estate agents, and appraisers) be paid out of the funds of the estate.
Every probate case has a filing fee – the fee you pay to the court clerk to file your petition. As of April, 2020, in Washington County, and Osage County, the filing fee for a probate case is $214.14. In Nowata County, the filing fee is $204.14. Also, if your case is contested, you may need to pay a court reporter for a transcript of the trial – transcript fees often are several hundred dollars. In some contested cases, you may have to hire expert witnesses – their fees can total thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars.
As with attorney’s fees and other expenses, the court will often order that court costs be paid out of the estate funds.
So is probate worth it?
If you are planning your estate, and wonder if you should take steps so that your relatives may avoid probate, you may find more information here.
Some property of deceased persons may be transferable outside of probate. However, in other cases, probate is the only way to transfer property. To see how to transfer a vehicle owned by a deceased person, and when probate is necessary to do so, click here. To see how to transfer a home owned by a deceased person, and when probate is necessary to transfer real property, click here.
Every case, however, is unique. The blog posts on this page only scratches the surface. If you are planning your estate, or if you need to transfer property owned by a deceased relative, you should speak to a qualified attorney or financial advisor before making any decisions. Take good care of your relatives – and take good care of yourself.