Probate is the process that an estate goes through in order to pay off debts and taxes and distribute assets to beneficiaries and heirs after the decedent (an estate owner) passes away. The process can be long and complicated, and often it is taxing. For those who haven’t been through it before, the most confusing part can be the unknown costs associated.
In Delaware, there are a number of moving pieces to the probate process. Understanding each and how much they potentially cost is your first step. The cost of probate in Delaware will be dependent on a number of factors, including:
What county you’re in
How complicated the estate is
If there are any people who contest the Will
What sort of Estate Plans have been created
Whether or not you use a probate attorney
The average cost of probate in Delaware will range based on the above considerations along with a few other issues that may arise in cases with special circumstances.
Common Probate Fees in Delaware
While probate fees in Delaware will fluctuate, you can count on a few things coming into play. It’s likely, if you’re going through probate, to have to pay the following:
Initial filing fees and court costs
Attorney fees (if you use a probate attorney)
Executor fees - could be noted in the Will; or state law notes compensation must be “reasonable”
Other professional fees - I.E., Accountants, Land Surveyors, etc.
Administrator/Executor/Probate Bonds are generally required in Delaware (price will range)
Common Questions About Probate in Delaware
How Long Does Probate Take in Delaware?
Probate in Delaware takes about one year to fully complete. Extremely complicated estates can take longer. You have ten days to open probate (by filing with the courts) after an estate owner passes away, and there is a minimum requirement that probate remains open for at least eight months.
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Delaware?
If you decide to hire someone, probate attorney fees in Delaware can range based on the attorney's experience and how complicated or large the estate is.
How Can You Avoid Probate in Delaware?
There are ways to set up an estate in Delaware so probate can eventually be avoided or at lease drastically minimized. Some of the strategic ways you can avoid probate include:
Titling securities and vehicles with Transfer on Death (TOD) registrations
Opening accounts and policies with Payable on Death (POD) designations
Setting up and fund a Living Trust
What is Considered a Small Estate in Delaware?
There’s another way to completely avoid probate. In cases where an estate value does not meet or exceed the state’s “small estate” threshold, the process can generally be bypassed. In Delaware, this limit is $30,000 and there can be no solely-titled real estate owned. If this is the case for any estate, the Register of Wills office will issue a Small Estate Affidavit, essentially allowing any assets to be transferred to appropriate family members and inheritors.
Who Pays Probate Fees in Delaware?
Almost all costs associated with probate (including probate lawyer fees) in Delaware can be paid for out of the estate.