Probably the most frequently asked question I get is “what will it cost to probate an estate” in Florida?
The answer depends on what is involved.
There’s basically two areas that affect how much probate costs; the actual costs and the lawyers’ bill. At the very least, there is going to be a filing fee; a fee paid to the court in order to open the case. Depending on the type of case, it would usually run either $345 for a summary administration or $400 for most other types of probate (Full administration, Ancillary administration). If the person has been dead for less than 2 years, then the estate would normally be advertised; how much it costs to advertise the estate depends on the county the probate is in and which newspaper is selected; very generally publication runs somewhere in the $100- $250 range. Other costs that may come up are certified copies of paperwork, and if there is real estate in more than one county, recording certified copies of that paperwork; this can add up very quickly.
The other aspect is, of course, the attorney fees for the probate. This depends on what needs to be done and what the lawyer is charging; very generally, more complicated estates will cost more. What makes an estate more or less complicated? Is there real estate involved? Is there a problem finding heirs? Is someone challenging the will? Is there in fact a will or is the estate intestate (it is generally easier and quicker to run a testate estate; Florida law provides that a Personal Representative can be granted certain powers in a will; if there is no will the Personal Representative may have to run to the judge for approval of certain actions). Are there a lot of creditors, people owed money by the estate? Is there an elective share or family allowance filed? Is there a Trust? If there is a Trust then the lawyers time may increase, as it may mean more ‘handling’ of the estate. Does the lawyer have to attend hearings or can the lawyer do this mostly by mail? How is the lawyer charging? Is the lawyer charging as a percentage of the value of the estate? By the hour? On a fixed fee schedule? Or a combination of more than one of these factors? All of these are permissible under certain circumstances under Florida law.
All of these factors can influence what the cost of probate in Florida is.
If you have questions about the cost of probate in Florida, contact a Florida attorney. If you are in or near The Villages, Florida feel free to contact my office with your questions about the cost of probate.