Asked in Probate for California

Q: Unequal inheritances - CA Do statutory legal fees get allocated against beneficiary shares based on value of share?

Real property is specific devise to only 1 of 3 beneficiaries. It is the bulk of the estates value. non devised beneficiaries feel estate administration fees should be paid proportionately from the real property devisee share as fees are calculated on estate value. Are they right and is there any case law regarding this?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Probate Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, estate administration fees are generally paid from the estate as a whole before distribution to beneficiaries. This means that the fees are not directly allocated against individual beneficiary shares based on the value of each share. Instead, these fees are deducted from the estate's total assets, which can effectively reduce the value of all beneficiaries' shares.

In the scenario you described, where real property is specifically devised to one beneficiary and constitutes the majority of the estate's value, the administration fees would still initially be paid out of the total estate. This could indirectly affect the value of the real property being passed to the specific beneficiary. However, if the non-devised beneficiaries believe that the fees should be disproportionately borne by the beneficiary receiving the real property, they may need to raise this issue during the estate administration process.

There isn't a clear-cut rule in California that mandates proportional payment of estate fees based on the value of individual shares or specific devises. The handling of such situations can vary and may depend on the terms of the will, if any, and the decisions of the probate court. Beneficiaries concerned about the allocation of fees should consider seeking legal guidance or raising their concerns with the executor or administrator of the estate.

It's also worth noting that case law can provide guidance on specific circumstances, but each case is unique. For precise case law applicable to your situation, a thorough legal research specific to your circumstances would be required.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.