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Probate Resources

What is Probate?

Probate—Gathering the assets of a deceased person to pay
his/her debts and distribute the balance to his beneficiaries. 

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  • Executor/Administrator/Personal Representative/Estate Representative—the person in charge of the estate
  • Will—a legal document that states how property and assets will be distributed upon their death
  • Testate—someone dies leaving a will
  • Intestate—someone dies without leaving a will
  • Trust—A written document that provides for the property being held by someone for someone else
  • Trustor/Grantor—The person who creates/adds the property to a trust
  • Trustee—The person named in a trust who manages and distributes the property for and to the beneficiary
  • Successor Trustee—The trustee that takes over after another trustee is removed or unwilling or unable to act on behalf of the trust




Full Authority

  • Can sell without Court Confirmation, meaning, your decisions stand.
  • Quite similar to a regular sale. Ideally, hire a realtor who has a certification and expertise in Probate sales.
  • Probate attorney must be advised as soon as you have an accepted offer/contract.
  • Requires a certified copy of letters, Notice of Proposed Action (15 days unless consent or waivers), and an attorney email indicating no estate taxes due in order to close the escrow.
  • Agents representing both buyer and seller must use all probate listing agreements, contracts, waivers, etc. exclusively. A non-probate realtor may not know this, and you will be bound by the contract, and by extension, their mistakes.

Court Confirmation ("Limited Authority")

  • Must follow several procedural guidelines. The average realtor does not know these protocols. Use a Certified Probate Expert.
  • Continue to market the property and allow due diligence once the offer is accepted/under contract
  • Confirmation hearing is a NO CONTINGENCY SALE – “AUCTION” in the courtroom.
  • Must sell the property for 90% of the Referee’s Opinion of Value. 
  • Overbidding process in court
  • Opening bid is 5% above the accepted offer + $500
  • Bid increments of $500 (this varies widely)
  • 10% Bid deposit for the successful bidder

Documents Required* for Court Confirmation (“Limited Authority”)

  • Plain copy (email) of Letters Testamentary or Letters of administration
  • Certified copy of the Order Confirming Sale
  • Email from an attorney indicating no estate taxes due
  • Of course, use all the probate listing agreements, contracts, etc. that are in the zip forms/ Assoc. of Realtors docs.

* Information taken from probate codes and/or common practices. Overbid process can vary widely.

Probates Fees

  • 4% of the first $100,000
  • 3% of the next $100,000
  • 2% of the next $800,000
  • Plus costs of approx $2,000 and extraordinary fees
In special circumstances or complicated cases, higher fees can be approved by
the courts, but a chart of the basic charges is below:
Value of Estate Compensation to Attorney or Personal Representative
$100,000 $4,000
$200,000 $7,000
$300,000 $9,000
$400,000 $11,000
$500,000 $13,000
$600,000 $15,000
$700,000 $17,000
$800,000 $19,000
$900,000 $21,000
$1,000,000 $23,000
$1,500,000 $28,000
$2,000,000 $33,000
$3,000,000 $43,000
$4,000,000 $53,000
$5,000,000 $63,000
$6,000,000 $73,000
$7,000,000 $83,000
$8,000,000 $93,000
$9,000,000 $103,000
$10,000,000 $113,000
$15,000,000 $138,000
$20,000,000 $163,000


Remember, these are the amounts that both the attorney AND the personal representatives can charge. So the actual payments could be double what you see in the charts (if both the attorney and the PR are charging these amounts). Also note that these charges can only be charged once the court has ordered the fees paid from the estate which usually happens at the end of the probate process as part of the final accounting. This is a very important point. Many times I have seen heirs to an estate procrastinating on filing the probate of the estate because they don’t have any money. The fact is, the fees out of pocket are minimal and some attorneys will even advance the out of pocket fees and be reimbursed by the estate. In most circumstances, the fees for the probate will be paid out of the proceeds of the estate….not the pocket of the heirs nor executors.






To help understand some of the confusing terms used when discussing trusts, probate, and wills we have compiled this list of definitions. All information is deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.
A-B Trust- This is a trust designed to take advantage of the personal estate tax exemption, which is currently at 5.43 million dollars. It also allows the surviving spouse use of the assets, no matter what, for the remainder of his or her life.
Administrator (male)/Administratrix (female)- This person is appointed by the court to manage and oversee the court process for the estate of a deceased person or "decedent" who has died without leaving a will.

Attorney in Fact- This person is designated to act as an agent for the executor of a power of attorney document.

Basic Will- The basic will is designed to give everything to the spouse, if living, or the children who are 18 or above.

Beneficiary- The beneficiary is the person who receives property or other assets from a will, insurance policy, or contract.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care- This is a written document that gives someone the power to make medical decisions for another person in case that person becomes incapacitated in some way.
Durable Power of Attorney for Property- This is a written document that gives someone the power to make property and financial related decisions for a person who has become incapacitated in some way.

Estate- The property and assets of an individual, including all real estate, bank accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds and personal property.

Executor (male)/Executrix (female)- The person or persons named in the will who will manage the estate of the decedent. He or she will inventory all properties, pay off debts and taxes, then distribute any remaining assets to the beneficiaries and heirs.

Fiduciary- The trustee who is identified in a trust, or an institution or person who is legally responsible for the distribution, management, or investment of funds or other assets of another person or entity.

Grantor- The person who gives assets to another, usually by way of a trust.

Heir- The person legally entitled to the property of another upon that person’s death.

Inter Vivos Trust- A trust created while a person is still living that holds property in trust for the benefit of someone.

Intestate- When someone dies without a will.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship- This term refers to co_owning property. When one owner dies, the other owner is legally entitled to take possession of the property, no matter what the will says.Living Trust- This is a trust that is established during a person's lifetime in which they place property.

Living Will- The document that outlines a person's wishes in regards to life sustainment treatment should he or she become terminally ill or in a vegetative state.

Marital Deduction- A deduction set up by the government that allows one spouse to leave his or her estate directly to his or her spouse upon death without having to pay gift or estate taxes.

Personal Representative (PR)- The individual who represents the estate for financial and other matters.  Also known as the administrator or executor.

Pour Over Will- Everything is distributed into a trust by this type of will.

Probate- The process in court of reviewing, legitimizing, and processing claims against a will, or in the case of no will, settling the estate according to inheritance laws.

Trust- A written document that provides for property being held by someone for someone else.

Testate- When a person dies having a will.

Trustee- The person named in a trust who manages and distributes the property for and to the beneficiary.

Will- A legal document that states how property and assets will be distributed upon a person's death.


Duties and Liabilities


Sample Court Document



Probate Procedural


Probate Sale Timeline




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