What is The Cost of Probate in Florida?

What is The Cost of Probate in Florida?The Cost of Probate definition can be described as any costs related to the court supervised proceedings for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying the debts of the decedent and distributing the assets of the decedent among his/her beneficiaries. Generally, the decedent’s assets are first used to pay the cost of probate proceedings, then the deceased outstanding debts are paid and what remains are distributed among the beneficiaries.

What are Probate Assets?

The administration of Probate applies only to probate assets which are generally the assets owned by the deceased on his/her sole name at death or the assets which has one or more co-owners and there is no provision for an automatic succession of ownership at the time of the death of decedent. The following are the probate assets:

  • Investment or bank account in the sole name of the decedent is a probate asset.
  • Annuity Contract, life Insurance Policy or individual retirement account payable to the deceased estate is a probate asset.
  • Real estate property which is titled in the sole name of the decedent is a probate asset.

Can I Avoid the Cost of Probate in Florida?

People generally ask the question “Can I avoid probate?”.  Probate cannot be avoided since it is necessary to pass the ownership of the deceased probate assets to his/her beneficiaries. However, if the will is present, it may be possible to avoid the cost of probate in Florida. However, in the absence of a valid will, probate is necessary to pass the ownership of deceased probate assets to those people who are liable to receive them under Florida Law. Probate cannot be avoided since it is a necessary to wind up all the decedent’s financial affairs after his/her death. If certain procedures are correctly followed, the administration of a decedent’s estate ensures that the deceased creditors are paid fully.

Three types of Probate Administration

1.     No Probate: Disposition without Administration

According to the Florida Law when the deceased person left little wealth behind, disposition without administration allows that person who has paid for the decedent final expenses to have a claim on the wealth. The expenses of the funeral and medical bills are to be reimbursed from the assets of the estate to the person who took responsibility of paying those final expenses. No Probate is necessary when the deceased person did not leave any real estate behind and his assets either exempt from creditor’s claims or do not exceed the amount of final expenses.

If you want to request reimbursement, you have to file a form called Disposition of Personal Property without Administration. This form is readily available from the court or you can download it from Florida circuit court’s website. However, there is a small fee to pay.

You must have all the medical bills and funeral bills as evidence on how much you have spent on the decedent in the last 60 days of his/her life. You must also state in the document exactly which assets you are requesting your payment from and certified death certificate must be accompanied by the request. If, there is a will, you must attach the copy of it and file it with the circuit court of Florida.

2.     Summary Administration

Summary Administration is a probate shortcut that is being used by many Florida estates. It is applicable in the following case:

  • The death occurred more than 2 years ago
  • The total value of the probate is not more than $75,000.

To start the process, the person who inherits property, or anyone being nominated in the will as an executor, will file a document called Petition for Summary Administration. If there is any surviving spouse, then he/she must sign and verify the petition. In the case where any beneficiary refuses to sign the petition, you must then you must serve the person with the formal notice that you have filed the petition.

In the petition, you will list the deceased personal assets and their value and state who inherits which asset. Also, you must state that the estate qualifies for summary administration. If the estate agrees to its qualification, then the court will issue an order, releasing the property to the inheritors. For example, you can now show the court’s order to the bank and ask them to release the funds since you are the rightful owner of the asset now.

3.     Formal Administration

Formal Probate may be necessary in the case if the estate does not qualify with the simple method of administration. The proceedings for the formal administration begins when the nominated executor or any other interested party asks the circuit court to appoint them as a personal representative of the estate. In most cases, the proceedings for Formal Probate takes place in the county where the death of the decedent took place. In the absence of a will, a prior notice is given to the heirs and beneficiaries, so they have a chance to object.

The court then issues, a document called Letters of Administration giving authority to the personal representative to settle the estate. If there is a will, then it must be presented and filed with the court. The court asks for proof of the will’s validity, which may be provided by the witnesses who will take the oath and give their statements. However, according to the law of Florida, if the will is self-proving, and there have been witnesses who had seen the will being signed in front of a notary public, then the will itself is enough to be submitted with the document.

The personal representative then, under the court’s supervision, gathers all the deceased assets, pay his taxes and debts, and eventually distributes what is left to the people who have inherited it. The personal representative is also liable to submit the final accounting to the court, showing how the assets were managed, what the estate contained and how the assets were distributed among the beneficiaries. Anyone, who has an objection to the accounting, is free to object in the court.

After the distribution of assets has taken place, the representative files the evidences and asks the court to close the estate. The court relieves the responsibility of the personal representative by issuing the order of closing the estate and this whole process typically takes 6 months to 1 year.

How much does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Florida?

Now the question arises, how much does it cost to probate a will? There are many cost associated with the Probate case, but first we will discuss the Probate Lawyer cost in Florida. Florida is considered among the few states of America where attorney’s fees are considered reasonable for estates of certain value. The cost of probate in Florida is the fee of attorney, which is based on the value of assets that go through probate, plus any income earned during the probate proceedings. However, the value of the Homesteaded property is normally not counted. Below are a general idea of statutory fees of the attorney based on the value of assets:

  • Value of estate up to $40,000 = $1,500
  • $40,000 – $70,000 = $2,250
  • $70,000 – $100,000 = $3,000
  • $100,000 – $1 million = $3,000,  + 3% of the value over $100,000
  • $1 million – $3 million = $30,000, + 2.5% of the value over $1 million
  • $3 million – $5 million = $50,000, + 2% of the value above $3 million
  • $5 million – $10 million= $90,000, + 1.5% on the value above $5 million
  • Value of estate more than $10 million = $165,000, + 1% of the value above $10 million

The above mentioned fees of probate lawyer are for ordinary services. If the lawyer is being sought for other services such as handling a will contest, or giving tax advice, he/she will charge an extra fee for his/her services.

Conclusion

To summarize how much does probate cost, we can say that for Summary Administration, the Probate fees start at $1000 and of Formal Administration, the fee starts from $1500 plus other cost related to income earned during probate proceedings. In Florida, the fees for filing the case Petition for Summary Administration are at the time of this writing $345. However, the filing fees for Full Administration, which is commonly known as Formal Administration is $400. There are other additional costs that are required by the state of Florida which are usually the cost associated with bonds for personal representatives, copy and certification of court records and advertising and publication costs.

In a nutshell, the cost of Probate in Florida is very high since the petitioner not only requires paying for the attorney fees, but there are other costs that have to be taken care if the case is being filed with the circuit court. With ProbateSolutionsFL (Home Solutions FLA LLC), you can rest assure since we will be taking care of all the cost related to probate and get the work done on your behalf. Contact us now or visit our page for further information.

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