Florida Probate Fee’s, What You Need To Know!

What you need to know about Florida Probate Fee’s. Litigation related to probate and will is often very emotional and sometimes overwhelming. People with adverse interests in the will may more often than not find themselves not willing to probate. When deceased persons last will and testament is offered for probate, there are many legal requirements that need to be followed up on. All beneficiaries, creditors and heirs have different rights, privileges and limitations that must be strictly followed. Probate litigation usually involves a will contest. It’s often used by surviving family members to correct any injustice that might be obvious. When the decease passes, Last Will and Testament and Notice of Administration, two formal documents, are filed notifying all interested parties about the death of their loved one. The time limit on the validity of the will can also come into question so don’t delay and get in contact with a Florida probate attorney as soon as possible. Since the entire process requires extreme caution and attention to detail, and since Florida laws have strict timelines in which to advocate for your rights, you should hire a lawyer on the earliest.

The question then that you could find yourself asking is when is probate really necessary? If the decedent owned any property in his or her sole name, meaning he didn’t have any joint owners then in most cases the property will need to be probated in order to get it out of the decedent’s name and transfer it to the new beneficiary. An exception of this can be seen in Florida regarding a motor vehicle. In Florida a motor vehicle can be transferred to the decedent’s heirs at law without opening a probate estate. It also has a streamlined process for “small estates” that takes significantly less time than a full probate administration. In Florida a small estate is considered to be valued at $75,000 or less.

Florida Probate is a court-supervised process for gathering and handling the decedent’s assets, paying taxes and distributing these assets to beneficiaries. The Florida Probate Code is found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes which provide for two types of probate administration:

  • Formal Administration and
  • Summary Administration

Florida Probate Fee’s, What You Need To Know!

Probate proceedings can become a tricky process, especially if you’re not familiar with the process and fees structure of the whole process. Many of us think twice before filing for probate since we don’t even know if it’s going to be worth our money in the end or not. There are many ways to settle an estate and in Florida you have three ways to settle it. These go from the least costly to the most costly depending on the size of the estate and the number of hours that the lawyer has to put in. The law in Florida, requires anyone who is in possession of a will to file it with the local circuit court within 10 days of learning of the death of the deceased, the court will then determine whether or not the will is valid or not.

In general, most people are not familiar with the probate process or its fees structure; these people want to familiarize themselves with the exact cost of the process before they start and if the estate of the decedent is relatively small, knowing the costs can help you decide whether you want to go through with the process or not and whether it would be worth your time and money. There are many costs when it comes to probate proceedings such as filing fees, publication costs, or accounting fees, however, the bulk of probate expenses are attributed to the fee paid to the attorney who represents the personal representative(s) of the estate. The biggest cost that you can face in a Florida probate proceeding is the attorneys’ fees and these are usually unavoidable. Your attorney can also receive payment from the estate that’s getting sold; this comes under “reasonable compensation payable from the estate assets.”

The Statutory Fees for The Florida Probate are:

  • Value of estate up to $40,000: $1,500
  • $40,000 to $70,000: $2,250
  • $70,000 to $100,000: $3,000
  • $100,000 to $1 million: $3,000, plus 3 percent of the value over $100,000
  • $1 million to $3 million: $30,000, plus 2.5 percent of the value over $1 million
  • $3 million to $5 million: $50,000, plus 2 percent of the value above $3 million
  • $5 million of $10 million: $90,000, plus 1.5 percent on the value above $5 million
  • More than $10 million: $165,000 plus 1 percent of the value above $10 million

These fees  generally account themselves with services known as “ordinary services” provided by the attorney and anything out of the ordinary that an attorney handles for you – for example giving tax advice may be applicable to more charges. Now anything out of the ordinary can become tricky, and you need to make sure that your attorney isn’t billing you even for the unnecessary things.

It should be noted that Florida attorneys aren’t legally bound to follow this fee schedule and many may disagree with it. Many lawyers in Florida would not affiliate themselves with these fees structures so you’d have to check and ask them first. If you’re handling an estate that is greater than $100,000, be sure to find a lawyer who will quote you a flat fee, or better; work at an hourly rate. This way when the probate process finishes you wouldn’t end up having to pay the attorney fees that your pocket can’t afford; in some cases probate cases can last up to months in cases of disputes under which circumstance your lawyer will charge you in accordance to how much time he spends on your case.

Attorney’s fees for Florida probate form part of the arrangement between the attorney and the client and are agreed upon in this particular arrangement. This arrangement can be part of the first meeting between the attorney and the client where the attorney tells the client his fees and asks whether or not the client can pay that much or not. However if the attorney fees goes out of proportion, in the sense that the fees amount reduces the amount that’s going to the beneficiaries, the court has the authority to reduce the attorney’s fees. Florida law requires the expenses to be “reasonable” and if the court deems the fees to be unreasonable then it can cut down on the attorney’s fees.

When we talk about reasonable attorney fees, we can see how the definition of the word “reasonable” is subjective. The determination of the “reasonableness” is therefore conducted by the court for it can’t be left up to two people to decide for both of them would have different ideas and thoughts regarding what is reasonable and what is not. In cases where the beneficiaries are receiving a sum that isn’t a lot in proportion to what the attorney is charging the client the court can simply wave a certain amount of the attorney’s fees off so that the client isn’t unjustly charged with money he shouldn’t be paying.

In essence the fees of the probate process depends upon the size of the estate, Florida is one of the few states that sets out, in its statutes, lawyers’ fees that are presumed to be reasonable for estates of a certain value. The fee is also based on the value of the assets that go through probate, plus any and all income they earn during the probate proceedings. The probate process can becoming a daunting experience if you don’t have the proper guidance or a lawyer that’s willing to work on your side so it’s important to keep in mind the 10 day deadline in Florida, and get in touch with a probate lawyer quickly.

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