In my last blog post I gave explained that Guam law sets probate fees based on the total value of the estate assets. A follow-up question that I have received is, “How do I find out how much real property is worth so I can come up with an estimate?”
The easiest and arguably most cost effective way of getting a value for real property is to use the values used by the Government of Guam for tax purposes. Property tax statements issued by the Government of Guam will show that value. Another option is to request that value directly from the Department of Land Management.
One final note is that, in the vast majority of cases, the probate code uses the value of property at the time the decedent passed away. I have had several cases where a probate case is opened 3 – 5 years after a family member has passed away. Instead of using the year that the case is filed, the probate code requires looking back at the value as of the time of death.
One of the most common questions anyone has when starting the probate process is, “How much will it cost?”
There are 2 types of expenses to think about: (1) costs and (2) fees.
In order to comply with Guam probate law, the administrator is required to give notice to heirs and creditors. The notice requirements are met by mailing and publication. Mailing is required for the hearings at the very beginning and very end of the probate process. Publication is also required at the beginning of the probate process. By law, administrators are required to publish a notice to creditors 3 times.
The costs of publication and mailing can total up to approximately $1,250. On the plus side, these costs can be reimbursed at the end of the probate process.
Attorneys are entitled to the same fee as an administrator would be entitled to under Guam law. The amount of attorney fees and an administrator’s fees are based on the value of the estate. Under Guam law, the fee schedule is as follows:
- 8% for the first $5,000
- 5% for the next $10,000
- 4% for the next $15,000
- 3% for the next $20,000
- 2% for the next $100,000
- 1.5% for the next $350,000
- 1% for the next $500,000
- 1% for anything remaining
As an example, let’s assume the estate consists of a single piece of property worth $100,000. The fees would be:
- $400 (8% x $5,000)
- $500 (5% x $10,000)
- $600 (4% x $15,000)
- $600 (3% x $20,000)
- $1,000 (2% x $50,000)
The total attorney and administrator fee for an estate worth $100,000 would therefore be $3,1000.
The last fee need to finalize the probate process are court closing costs. These costs are also based on the total value of the estate:
- $8 for he first $1,000
- $40 for the next $1,000
- $60 for the next $2,000
- $75 for the next $3,500
- $15 for every $1,000 above $7,500
Court closing costs cannot exceed $5,000.
If you have questions about the probate process and costs, you can contact me using the contact form on this website or by calling (671) 477-8894.