For many people, cost is one of the biggest downsides of the probate process. The big question for people planning their estates is, exactly how much does probate cost your estate, or how much will probate cost your personal representative? The answer may determine whether you try to avoid the probate process and which legal tools you use to create your estate plan.

(Related: Can You Avoid Probate? Should You?)

How Much Probate Costs Is Case by Case

The details and costs of probate differ from state to state, county to county, and even from estate to estate, so it is impossible to give exact numbers on how much probate costs. However, there are two big costs that anyone can expect their estate and their personal representative to have to navigate:

  1. The filing fee for the inventory.
  2. The filing fee for the first accounting. (Note: If the estate is complicated enough that probate must continue for multiple years, there will be fees every year. These fees must be paid to the Commissioner of Accounts in the county of the estate.)

There are often other fees that come up in addition to these two main fees. If you live in Virginia, you should consider that there may be qualifications fees, probate taxes, bond fees, and of course, attorney fees if you hire a professional to help you through the process. Not all of these apply to every estate, but be aware that your personal representative may face some of them.

(Related: The Probate Process in Virginia: An Overview)

Who Pays for Probate Costs?

Most of the time, all the fees that accompany probate come out of the estate, but in some cases, the personal representative has to pay them. If the estate plan is set up correctly before a person passes, the personal representative should not have to pay out of pocket to put the deceased’s estate through probate. This is one reason that creating a quality estate plan is so important—to provide for the loved one who will be administering the estate.

How to Determine if Probate Costs Will Affect Your Estate

It is true that probate can be expensive for some estates, but for others, cost is not a huge issue. The best way to determine how complicated and costly probate will be for your estate is to consult with an experienced estate attorney in your state of residence. They can evaluate your location and assets to help you determine if you should create an estate plan to avoid probate, or if it will be manageable for your personal representative to put your estate through probate.


Have questions about probate in Virginia or West Virginia? Call us today!


Joshua E. Hummer, Esq. is the founder of Relational Estate and Elder Law, and he has been a practicing attorney for over 15 years. While experienced in many parts of the law, Josh specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law. He is licensed in both Virginia and West Virginia. Josh’s passion lies in helping people gain peace of mind about the future through holistic legal planning. When he isn’t meeting with clients or crafting legal documents, Josh enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, Jill, and their four vibrant children.