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Florida Probate Administration Costs

Will and Trust Lawyers for Ocala Area Residents

Florida probate is a legal proceeding in which a decedent’s assets are settled. The Florida Bar considers probate to be a court-supervised process for locating and assembling a decedent’s assets, paying off the decedent’s debts, and distributing the assets to beneficiaries. The probate process often includes establishing the will’s validity if there is a will, getting Florida letters of administration, appointing a personal representative, gathering assets, paying debts, and distributing what’s left to beneficiaries. If you are concerned about Florida probate administration costs, the seasoned Ocala probate attorneys of the Dean Law Firm may be able to help.

What Happens During Probate?

Probate proceedings may be necessary depending on what assets the decedent owned and how they were titled. There may be some nonprobate assets, which are assets that pass automatically without a need for probate. These include trust property, beneficiary designations and property owned jointly with rights of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety. When assets are titled in the name of a valid living trust, for example, they aren’t estate assets and don’t need to pass through probate. Assets that have payable on death designations don’t go through probate. Property that’s owned jointly with rights of survivorship or by tenancy by the entirety pass automatically upon death to a surviving owner.

Other assets are probate assets. These can include the decedent’s bank accounts and real property that is only owned by the decedent. When the decedent owned probate assets, it is likely that probate will be necessary.

Probate can be expensive. It may not be necessary to go through probate if final expenses exceed the value of property that would pass through probate. Final expenses can include reasonable medical expenses within 60 days of the decedent’s final illness. Probate can be used if the decedent didn’t leave behind real estate and the only assets are exempt from creditors’ claims or aren’t more than what the final expenses are.

Florida Probate Administration Costs

Formal administration of a probate estate happens if the estate’s compensable value is more than $40,000 and it isn’t eligible for summary administration. An estate’s compensable value is the inventory value of probate estate assets and income the estate earns during an administration.

If the estate goes through summary administration, there is still a fee to file for a petition for summary administration, but it is a little less than the filing fees for formal administration or full administration.

The estate’s personal representative must usually retain a probate attorney. The personal representative may be entitled to get reimbursement of attorneys’ fees from the probate estate. The attorney should be paid out of estate assets even without a court order. Additionally, the personal representative is entitled to be paid fees; both the personal representative’s fees and the attorneys’ fees are supposed to be paid before other creditors during administration, except when a probate estate is made up only of exempt assets.

Florida Statutes section 733.6171(3) provides for certain presumptively reasonable fees for attorneys’ services in the formal administration of a probate estate. When the estate value is $200,000, other than homestead property exemptions, there will be $6000 as a presumptively reasonable fee for the attorney for the personal representative. When the estate value is $90,000, other than homestead property exemptions, the presumptively reasonable fee for the attorney for the personal representative is $3000. An attorney for a personal representative can be permitted further reasonable compensation for extraordinary service.

Probate administration can become expensive. Sometimes a decedent has conducted estate planning to avoid entering probate at all, but this is not always the case.

Retain a Skilled Probate Attorney in Ocala

If you are concerned about Florida probate administration costs, you can consult a will and trust lawyer in Ocala. Michael E. Dean and Timothy S. Dean of the Dean Law Firm have decades of experience representing clients in probate. Call us at 352-387-8700 to set up a free consultation or contact us online.