How Much Does Florida Probate Cost?
It’s no secret that probate can be a lengthy and expensive process. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, probate can take several months or even years. Even simple cases should be expected to take a minimum of six to nine months in Florida. During that time, the assets will be inaccessible to the family members and heirs, who may have relied upon the decedent and their assets prior to the decedent’s death. This can create significant financial hardship.
Many people think that if they have a valid will it will expedite the process, but in reality, even a valid will is simply a guarantee that you will have to endure the probate process. For this reason, estate attorneys commonly advise people to form living trusts or to utilize other estate planning strategies that will allow them to avoid probate. However, sometimes it is unavoidable (or, more likely, it is now too late to avoid it). In these cases it can be helpful to have a sense of how much probate will cost the estate. Particularly if the estate is small, it may be entirely depleted by the fees required to go through probate, and the family may decide against the process. However, even in instances where it is financially worthwhile to endure, it is still helpful to have a sense of how this process will financially impact the estate and its beneficiaries.
Attorneys Fees Associated with Probate
While there are a number of filing, administrative, and accounting fees associated with probate, these are a relatively minor aspect of the overall cost. The bulk of probate fees will be attorney’s fees. Florida law requires an attorney for most probate cases. The attorney’s role is to represent the estate’s designated personal representative. You may be wondering why the personal representative needs legal representation, and, in short, it’s to protect the decedent’s interests and final wishes. It is not uncommon for people who believe they should stand to inherit from the deceased person to challenge the will after their death. Likewise, creditors or agencies may try to make claims against the estate before its assets can be distributed. The attorney will ensure that the decedent’s will is protected and that their interests (as expressed in their valid will) are respected. While some liens and debts may have to be settled prior to asset distribution, the attorney will ensure that they are valid and will represent the best interest of the estate, protecting its assets to the greatest degree possible.
How Much Are Attorney Fees for Probate?
Because this is legally required, these costs are unavoidable. Assuming the estate’s assets are sufficient to pay attorney’s fees, the attorney will be paid reasonable fees from the estate. In this way, the attorney’s fees can decrease or deplete the estate’s assets. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate though, the impact of these costs may vary. For instance, for an estate valued at $40,000 or less, basic attorneys fees will generally be about $1,500. For an estate valued between $100,000 and $1,000,000, attorney compensation will be $3,000 in addition to 3% of the value of the estate. However, these are the basic fees. If there are additional services, such as defending against challenges to the will, these can incur further costs.
Talk to a Florida Probate Attorney
If you are planning your estate or are facing the reality of Florida probate, contact an experienced probate attorney today. The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray are prepared to help you navigate this process and ensure that your interests are protected. Call today to schedule a consultation with a West Palm Beach estate planning attorney.