How Much Does Probate Really Cost?
Many people choose to use a revocable living trust as a mechanism to avoid probate. As I describe it, a revocable living trust is like a treasure chest because you can put your treasures in it while you are alive and still maintain complete control. The trust also avoids probate for heirs if it’s been properly funded. Why would you want to avoid probate? Probate is time consuming and expensive. So, how much does a Florida Probate really cost?
Court costs to start the administration vary depending on the type of administration and its location (the county where the administration is being filed). Typically, the filing fee for a formal administration, which is the administration of an estate valued at over $75,000, is $405.00. A formal administration requires the petitioner (or personal representative) to be represented by an attorney. The personal representative of a formal administration will be entitled to reasonable compensation under Florida law (FL Statutes Section 733.617).
Florida law has also set the attorney’s fees for ordinary services in a formal administration in Florida Statutes Section 733.6171. Section 733.6171(3) states that an attorney’s compensation:
“is presumed to be reasonable if based on the compensable value of the estate, which is the inventory value of the probate estate assets and the income earned by the estate during the administration as provided in the following schedule:
(a) One thousand five hundred dollars for estates having a value of $40,000 or less.
(b) An additional $750 for estates having a value of more than $40,000 and not exceeding $70,000.
(c) An additional $750 for estates having a value of more than $70,000 and not exceeding $100,000.
(d) For estates having a value in excess of $100,000, at the rate of 3 percent on the next $900,000.
(e) At the rate of 2.5 percent for all above $1 million and not exceeding $3 million.
(f) At the rate of 2 percent for all above $3 million and not exceeding $5 million.
(g) At the rate of 1.5 percent for all above $5 million and not exceeding $10 million.
(h) At the rate of 1 percent for all above $10 million.”
To illustrate what that might mean for you or your estate, for example, an estate with a compensable value of $500,000 would incur an attorney fee of $15,000. An estate with a compensable value of $5.1 million will incur an attorney fee of $76,500.
Depending on the case, the attorney for the personal representative may also charge an hourly rate to the estate for extraordinary services. Extraordinary services can include a variety of services as listed in Florida Statutes Section 733.6171(4), including but not limited to will contests, will construction, contested claims, services related to homestead property, elective share proceedings, tax advice, and the purchase or sale of estate real property. Litigation and contested probates can be extremely expensive as attorney’s fees and outside costs add up fast.
If you need help handling a deceased loved one’s estate, please contact us for a complimentary attorney consultation. We work with families to keep the initial costs to the personal representative reasonable. We also help people avoid probate altogether with a comprehensive trust planning package.