Understanding Probate Fees

Understanding Probate Fees

December 29, 2022

After a Florida resident passes away, the legal process of settling the decedent’s estate is called probate administration. Fees can vary depending upon the complexity of the case. Here is a list of some factors you need to know about probate fees in Florida. 

  1. Breakdown of Probate Fees
  2. Understanding Extraordinary Fees
  3. Breakdown of Probate Costs 
  4. What Does It Cost To Probate A Last Will & Testament In Florida

1. Breakdown of Probate Fees 

Florida law requires what is called the petitioner or personal representative to be represented by an attorney in most cases. Therefore, one of the most important factors is determining the attorney’s fee. 

Attorney Fees

Florida Statutes set forth a presumed reasonable guideline, although, the client and attorney may agree to an hourly fee or a fixed flat fee as well. According to Florida Statute- probate code section 733.6171(3), here are the guidelines for reasonable attorney fees: 

  • Estates of $40,000 or less: $1,500
  • Estates between $40,000 and $70,000: $2,250
  • Estates between $70,000 and $100,000: $3,000
  • Estates between $100,000 and $900,000: 3% of the estate’s value
  • Estates between $1 million and $3 million: 2.5% of the estate’s value
  • Estates between $3 million and $5 million: 2% of the estate’s value
  • Estates between $5 million and $10 million: 1.5% of the estate’s value
  • Estates of $10 million and above: 1% of the estate’s value

2. Understanding Extraordinary Fees

Florida Statute- probate code section 733.6171(4), Sets forth factors that are considered extraordinary fees in addition to ordinary fees, and states as follows,

“(4) Subject to subsection (2), in addition to fees for ordinary services, the attorney for the personal representative shall be allowed further reasonable compensation for any extraordinary service. What is an extraordinary service may vary depending on many factors, including the size and complexity of the estate.” Extraordinary services may include, but are not limited to:

(a) Involvement in a will contest, will construction, a proceeding for determination of beneficiaries, a contested claim, elective share proceeding, apportionment of estate taxes, or any adversarial proceeding or litigation by or against the estate.

(b) Representation of the personal representative in audit or any proceeding for adjustment, determination, or collection of any taxes.

(c) Tax advice on postmortem tax planning, including, but not limited to, disclaimer, renunciation of fiduciary commission, alternate valuation date, allocation of administrative expenses between tax returns, the QTIP or reverse QTIP election, allocation of GST exemption, qualification for Internal Revenue Code ss. 6166 and 303 privileges, deduction of last illness expenses, fiscal year planning, distribution planning, asset basis considerations, handling income or deductions in respect of a decedent, valuation discounts, special use and other valuation, handling employee benefit or retirement proceeds, prompt assessment request, or request for release of personal liability for payment of tax.

(d) Review of estate tax return and preparation or review of other tax returns required to be filed by the personal representative.

(e) Preparation of the estate’s federal estate tax return. If this return is prepared by the attorney, a fee of one-half of 1 percent up to a value of $10 million and one-fourth of 1 percent on the value in excess of $10 million of the gross estate as finally determined for federal estate tax purposes, is presumed to be reasonable compensation for the attorney for this service. These fees shall include services for routine audit of the return, not beyond the examining agent level, if required.

(f) Purchase, sale, lease, or encumbrance of real property by the personal representative or involvement in zoning, land use, environmental, or other similar matters.

(g) Legal advice regarding carrying on of the decedent’s business or conducting other commercial activity by the personal representative.

(h) Legal advice regarding claims for damage to the environment or related procedures.

(i) Legal advice regarding homestead status of real property or proceedings involving that status and services related to protected homestead.

(j) Involvement in fiduciary, employee, or attorney compensation disputes.

(k) Proceedings involving ancillary administration of assets not subject to administration in this state.

3. Breakdown of Probate Costs 

Leggett Law Offices can explain the costs and expenses that you can generally expect to pay during probate. 

There are three main kinds of probate proceedings in Florida. The court filing fee can range from $236.00 to $401.00. If you die a resident of Jacksonville, then the probate proceedings will be filed in the Circuit Court of Duval County. Here is the breakdown of the usual court fees: 

  • Formal Administration — $401
  • Summary Administration (estate valued at >$1000) — $346 
  • Summary Administration (estate valued at <$1000) — $236 

Certified Copy Costs

There are official certified copies of certain orders that you may need to pay for, which often also include Letters of Administration, as proof you have been appointed personal representative of the estate. These Letters are provided to any third parties you need contact when handling the affairs of the estate. Each certified copy costs around $5 - $20. 

Miscellaneous Costs

Your case may involve numerous other expenses while going through the probate process in Jacksonville, Florida. This may include postage fees costs, appraisal fees costs, asset valuation fees costs, notary costs, storage costs, process service costs, court reporter costs, travel costs, accountant costs, deposition costs, and potentially fees for additional counsel to assist in the case if necessary. 

4. What Does It Cost To Probate A Will In Florida

As mentioned above, the probate fee will be established between the client and Leggett Law Offices before any work begins. Attorney fees and costs may begin at a couple thousand dollars and increase from there when handling a decedent’s Last Will & Testament in the probate administration. There may also be issues with the Will requiring additional time and expense. 

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