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How Much Does Probate Cost in Texas?

Updated: May 15

Probate Attorney Houston
The Cost of Probate in Texas

Losing someone you love is hard enough without money concerns weighing you down. But after their passing, your grief now comes with Texas-sized probate costs. Between attorney’s fees, appraisal costs, creditors, court charges, and more, probate expenses can quickly snowball. 

You want to honor your loved one’s wishes, but are probate fees draining their estate?

Navigating probate while grieving is overwhelming without understanding the real costs. Get the information you need to preserve assets and gain closure. In this post, we break down the average probate fees in Texas so you know what to expect. Learn the costs involved, what influences the price, and how our probate lawyers can help you along the way.

What is Probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process for administering a deceased person’s estate. It involves validating the will, inventorying assets, paying any outstanding debts, and finally distributing the remaining property to the rightful heirs.

The probate process takes place in a specialized probate court, with a judge overseeing the proceedings. Depending on the situation, probate can take anywhere from six months to two years to fully complete.

Texas Probate Fees

There are several main categories of fees and costs associated with probate in Texas:

Court Costs

Probate fees can vary significantly by county in Texas. The probate court charges filing and publication costs over the proceedings, but totals are set at the local level. For example, in Chambers County, the probate filing fee is $411, while in Liberty County, it’s $420.

Some other common probate costs include:

  1. Inventory filing fee (if filed 90+ days after appointment)

  2. Claims against the estate filing fee

  3. Letters of testamentary issuance fee

Executor Fees

The executor or personal representative of the estate is entitled to compensation for their administration duties. Texas law states that an executor can be paid up to 5% commission as standard compensation for what comes into the estate and what goes out of the estate (10% total).  This does not include the sale of real property when a realtor is involved or the decedent’s current bank accounts. 

This commission is based on funds that are received and paid out in the course of administration of the estate. They may also be entitled to alternative compensation under special circumstances, such as when the commission is unreasonably little, or they had to go above and beyond in managing a business of the estate.

Appraisal Costs

If the estate includes real property, business interests, jewelry, art, or other uncommon assets, professional appraisals may be needed to determine fair market value. Appraisal fees vary depending on the asset type and appraiser. 

Attorney Fees

Probate attorneys typically charge based on an hourly rate, and the total fees can be influenced by the complexity of the case, the attorney’s experience, and the location.

If you own property in another state as well, attorneys may charge a percentage of the estate’s value instead of an hourly rate. This percentage can range from 1% to 5% or more.

Estimating Your Probate Costs — An Example

Probating a will in Texas involves various court costs, executor fees, appraisal charges, and attorney bills. Expenses can add up quickly, so understanding common probate fees in Texas can help you budget appropriately.

Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario to illustrate potential costs for a $500,000 estate going through probate in Chambers County:

Court Costs

  1. Initial probate filing fee

  2. Inventory filing fee

  3. Letters of testamentary issuance fee

  4. Other minor court costs

Executor Fees: Up to $25,000

  1. 10% of $500,000 estate value if no real estate nor decedant’s bank accounts

Appraisal Costs: Around $5,000

  1. Professional appraisals are needed for real estate, jewelry, art, etc.

Attorney Fees

  1. Fees are based on reasonable hourly rate and time spent on the case

Total Probate Costs =  $60,000++

So, in this hypothetical case, the total fees could amount to around 9-11% of the overall estate value. Costs vary case by case, but this illustrates the major expenses involved. Understanding the potential costs allows proper planning and budgeting.

What Impacts Probate Costs in Texas?

Because each situation is unique, it’s impossible to know the exact cost at the outset. But several factors influence the total cost of probate in Texas, including:

  1. Size of the Estate — Larger estates have disproportionately higher probate costs. For a $100,000 estate, total fees might be $14,000. But for a $1 million estate, fees could reach $100,000 or more.

  2. Complexity — The more complicated the estate, the higher the legal bill will likely be. Contested wills, family disputes over inheritance, separate business valuations, out-of-state property, and estate litigation can all drive up costs quickly. Working with an experienced probate attorney is essential in these cases.

  3. Location of Assets — If some estate assets are located in another state, ancillary probate proceedings will be required in that state. This adds separate court and attorney fees for those assets.

  4. Type of Assets — Difficult or unconventional assets like ownership shares in small businesses, intellectual property, digital assets, and cryptocurrency often necessitate specialized legal and tax expertise. 

Juggling these different factors can be a lot to handle, adding emotional and financial stress to an already difficult situation.

A knowledgeable probate lawyer can handle all court filings and give you an estimate of what to expect.

This lifts a huge burden on family members already grieving their loss. The attorney also ensures full compliance with each step of the complex probate process, avoiding costly mistakes or omissions. If disputes arise, your attorney can mediate and negotiate on your behalf. For large or contentious estates especially, legal expertise is invaluable.

How to Avoid Probate in Texas

For those wishing to avoid the costs and delays of probate, there are several options:

  1. Living trusts transfer property outside of probate but require planning and legal fees upfront.

  2. Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship automatically passes property to the surviving owner.

  3. Transfer-on-death accounts and payable-on-death assets name beneficiaries who can take ownership directly and pass outside of probate.

  4. Gifting assets while living also removes them from the future probate estate but could cause tax implications and prevent eligibility for long-term care benefits.

An estate planning attorney can advise whether these probate avoidance strategies make sense for your specific situation.

Take Control Over Your Legacy

Losing someone you love is painful enough without the added stress and cost of probate. The experienced estate planning attorneys at Your Legacy Legal Care are here to guide you through this challenging process. Having helped hundreds of families through probate in Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Chambers, and Liberty Counties in Texas, we bring compassion along with solid legal knowledge.

Our goal is to help you honor your loved one’s wishes while minimizing costs and complications for you and your family. We know this is an emotional time. Let us handle the legal complexities so you can focus on healing. 

Contact us today for an initial consultation to discuss your probate situation in complete confidence. The sooner we can get involved, the more we can do to streamline the process for you.

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