All goods things must come to an end…and probate’s end too. Once you have done everything required of you to administer the estate, it is time to report your actions to the Court, account for the money and property under your control, and ask to be paid your fees. All of this is accomplished by filing a Petition to Termination the probate estate. Sometime referred to as a final petition, or more descriptively as the “Petition to Approve Final Account and Report; Order Distribution of Estate Assets; Allowance of Statutory and Extraordinary Fees to the Executor and His Attorney”.
This is the grand finale. The report part of the petition just describes what action you took as Executor. The accounting is no different from a Trust accounting, governed by Probate Code section 1061. You simply follow the format under the Probate Code to account for all money and property that came into your possession, and then all money and property that was paid out for estate expenses and the assets left on hand after payment of expenses.
The fees are fairly straightforward because the statutory fees are calculated as a percentage of the estate assets: 4% of the first $100,000 of assets, 3% of the next $100,000, and 2% of the next $800,000. If the estate is worth more than $1 million, the fee is 1% of all amounts over $1 million. For example, the statutory fee for an estate with an appraised value of $500,000 will be $23,000 (4% of the first $100,000 = $4,000; 3% of the next $100,000 = $3,000; and 2% of the final $300,000 = $6,000; for a grand total of $23,000). The Executor and the attorney receive the same statutory fee.
The extraordinary fees are a different matter. Extraordinary fees are for services rendered by the Executor and/or attorney that go above and beyond the typical administration services. For example, selling real estate, handling a litigation matter, preparing and filing an estate tax return, fighting an IRS audit. Anything that goes beyond the normal administration duties.
Once your final petition is approved by the court, you then need to make the final estate distributions to the beneficiaries. You pay your fee, pay the attorney and then have everyone sign receipts to prove the property was properly distributed. The receipts are submitted to the court along with an ex parte application for final discharge and your probate is then officially closed.
For more information, please visit: http://www.aldavlawcarlsbad.com/practice-areas/estate-probate-litigation/