For most people one of the worrying aspects of probate is the cost. Historically, probate has been the source of scandalously high legal fees –remember Dickens’ “Bleak House”?:
The Lawyers have twisted it into such a state of bedevilment that the original merits of the case have long disappeared from the face of the earth. It’s about a will and the trusts under a will –or it was, once. It’s about nothing but costs, now. We are always appearing, and disappearing, and swearing, and interrogating, and filing, and cross-filing, and arguing, and sealing, and motioning, and referring, and reporting, and revolving about the Lord Chancellor and all his satellites and equitably waltzing ourselves after off to dusty death, about Costs. That’s the great question. All the rest, by some extraordinary means, has melted away.
In England and Wales sensible reforms were introduced many years ago, but in many States in the USA probate is still a serious problem with lawyers reluctant to change a system which guarantees them handsome fees. As a result many Americans take elaborate steps to avoid probate by creating trusts during their lifetime.
Back in England is the costs anxiety, so firmly established in the Nation’s psyche, now totally unfounded? Well, not really – those in the business of providing probate services may still try to exploit their customers to maximize their profit often trying to charge a percentage of the estate’s value. So the lesson has to be – find a reputable firm to provide you with an excellent service at a certain price.