How much probate costs depends in large part upon the size and complexity of the estate. The primary costs involved in a Wisconsin probate matter include court costs, a probate bond if one is required, and fees to the personal representative and the probate attorney. Wisconsin statutes set the court filing fee at 0.2% and the personal representative's fee at 2.0% of the value of the estate's assets.
It used to be common for Wisconsin estate attorneys to also base their fees on a percentage of the estate's assets. However, a 1975 Wisconsin Supreme Court case found that this practice was unreasonable. Since then, Wisconsin estate attorneys usually charge an hourly rate. It is reasonable to expect that an attorney will have to put in more time on a large or complex estate, so his or her fees may be somewhat higher for a large estate than for a small one. Sometimes even estates of relatively small value can have complex issues that require more of the attorney's time, though.
Wisconsin statutes permit the funeral home and estate attorney to be paid before most other creditors, so usually the attorney is paid from the estate's assets and not from the personal representative's personal funds.