While it can be an honor to be named the executor or administrator of someone’s will, it’s also a very big job – and it’s not something that many people understand how to do.
Probate is the legal process that ensures an orderly distribution of a deceased person’s assets and settles their debts. In Ohio, the probate proceedings can be very complex, so it’s not unusual for the executor or administrator to seek legal assistance with the process.
But how do you pay for a probate attorney?
Typically, the estate pays the attorney’s fees
The court recognizes that laypeople aren’t particularly equipped to handle the probate process alone, so a probate attorney’s fees are usually considered just another cost of settling the estate.
In many Ohio counties, probate attorney fees are set according to a schedule that gives the attorney a percentage of the estate’s value, but this varies by location. In some areas, the attorneys may charge either flat fees or hourly fees, but they must always be reasonable given the complexity of the estate.
There is one caveat: Sometimes an estate doesn’t have enough liquid assets (readily available cash) to cover the administration costs and attorney fees. When that’s true, the executor or administrator may have to front the costs until some of the estate’s assets are sold. This can be frustrating to heirs, especially if they don’t want certain assets sold. In those situations, they may decide to pay the fees directly.
If you’ve accepted the burden of handling someone’s estate, don’t feel like you have to do it alone. Legal guidance is available (and far more affordable than you may realize).