If you’ve recently lost a loved one, you may be wondering about the cost of probate in Arkansas. Probate is the legal process of settling an estate, and it can be expensive. Here’s a look at how much probate costs in Arkansas, what factors affect the cost, and how to keep expenses under control.
How much are Arkansas probate attorney fees?
The law states unless otherwise contracted with the personal representative, heirs, and beneficiaries of the estate, shall be allowed a fee based on the total market value of the real and personal property reportable in the circuit court, as follows:
(A) Five percent (5%) of the first five thousand dollars ($5,000);
(B) Four percent (4%) of the next twenty thousand dollars ($20,000);
(C) Three percent (3%) of the next seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000);
(D) Two and three-fourths percent (23/4%) of the next three hundred thousand dollars ($300,000);
(E) Two and one-half percent (21/2%) of the next six hundred thousand dollars ($600,000); and
(F) Two percent (2%) of the value of all properties thereafter.
I know that was confusing but, the main takeaway is it can be expensive. If you want it to be more confusing, you can read the law here: Ark. Code Ann. 28-48-108
Can I save money using a probate lawyer?
Yes. You can save probate fees by using a probate lawyer. There are several ways they can help. One way we help is by making sure all the claims filed in the probate process are valid. We will file objections to the claims with the probate court and get a good portion of them thrown out.
Lawyers can also help get things done. We have had to come in at the last minute and help make the sale of real estate go through because the previous probate process was not handled well.
Types of Fee Arrangments
There are three basic ways you can hire and pay probate lawyer costs. The three ways you can pay probate attorney fees are:
- The estate pays at the end (this is the percentage mentioned above);
- You can pay the attorney hourly for the work they do;
- You can pay a flat fee to the attorney.
What are the differences between these?
Lawyer for the Estate
If you are paying from the estate, then you hire an attorney and the probate lawyer works for the estate. They handle all the legal work to get the estate settled. At the end of the probate, the estate pays his or her fee. The fee is presumed reasonable if it follows the percentages above, but the lawyer can petition for a different fee, so long as it is a reasonable fee.
Pay by the Hour
If you are paying the probate attorney costs by the hour, then you pay the lawyer per hour. The standard arrangement is you pay the lawyer a retainer, then the lawyer bills you per hour at his or her hourly rate, then at the end of the month, they will invoice the hourly billings and deduct them from your retainer.
When paying the probate lawyer costs by flat fee, it works like any other contract. You discuss what you need from the lawyer, and come to an agreement about what the probate lawyer’s cost will be. The lawyer provides the legal services you agreed to for the fee.
Not every case can be a flat fee. Sometimes there are complicated estates and they are to difficult to allow a flat fee.
At wh Law we handle Arkansas Probates under all 3 fee arrangements.
How much does an executor get paid?
You can personal representative to get paid for doing their job.
The personal representative is the person appointed by the Court to handle the probate process. If there is a will the personal representative is called an Executor, and if there is not a will the personal representative is called a Testator. They are entitled to payment for their work.
The fee schedule is determined by state law as follows:
- 10% of the first $1,000
- 5% of the next $4,000
- 3% of the remaining estate balance
Here is a link to the law on Executor compensation: Ark Code Ann. 28-48-108
Why is the Probate Process so Expensive?
The probate process is expensive because it has a lot of moving parts (it is complicated and has costs). There are also many costs that come up that people do not think about ahead of time.
Some of the normal costs associated with probate are:
- The court fee for filing the petition is $185. If you have to file an accounting that adds an additional accounting fee of $55 dollars each time.
- The cost of running the publication newspaper ranges from $150 to $250.
- If there is real estate involved, you will need may need it appraised. The fees for an appraisal run about $600 per property.
- You may have to purchase a surety bond.
- You may need to pay accounting fees.
Should I do it myself or pay the probate lawyer fees?
Of course, I am a lawyer and my answer is no. I can understand someone looking at the probate costs, and saying, if I look at the gross value of the estate, the probate work that needs to be done, just what am I paying for?
The estate assets are a valuable resource and this total estate is just not worth the cost of an experienced probate lawyer. I get along with all the interested parties and we can save the probate lawyer cost and other fees by handling this ourselves.
So, why should you hire a lawyer for an Arkansas Probate?
First, the process takes a lot of knowledge. Even lawyers who do not handle probates often mess the process up.
Second, you can represent yourself, but you cannot represent anyone else. You need to be careful and not practice law without a license. If you represent the estate, then you are practicing law without a license.
Will you go to jail for this, no. The remedy is everything you have done will be thrown out of probate court, i.e sticken from the record.