Most estates involving property or more than forty thousand dollars in assets will require a probate procedure in court before the assets can be sold or transferred to heirs. Probate actions are generally handled by attorneys due to the numerous filings with the court, notices to heirs and creditors, and tax returns which must be filed. The attorney's fee is paid out of the assets of the estate, not by the executor (eggs-ECK-you-ter) or administrator. All attorney's fee requests are reviewed and approved by the court. Attorneys will also handle summary probate proceedings for estates worth less than forty thousand dollars. A summary probate involves preparing the necessary affidavits (aff-ih-DAVE-its) and supporting documentation to transfer the assets to heirs without going to court. Attorney's fees for this procedure is paid by the heirs. Prior to death, obtaining pre-planning advise from an attorney is recommended if you have a sizable estate, or if you have minor children, or if you own real property. In these cases, the attorney can discuss your alternatives, and you can take the steps necessary to minimize estate taxes and costs to the greatest extent possible. For more information regarding your particular situation, please contact an attorney.