A Brief Introduction to Florida Probate

Before you start reading, be aware that here’s our page for probate attorney Jacksonville Fl. When a loved one passes away in Florida, their estate will need to be settled. In most cases, some or all of the estate will need to go through the probate process. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ process, however. Things like the value of the estate, what type of estate planning was done, and many other factors, can impact what the probate process looks like.

In some cases, for example, probate is not required at all. This is quite rare, but it can occur when the deceased person did not have any type of real estate and they also have assets that are either less than the total costs of their final expenses or are exempt from creditors’ claims. In these situations, the individual who handles the final planning (burial, funeral, expenses associated with a final illness, etc.) can simply file to have their expenses reimbursed from the estate.

Summary Administration

Summary administration is commonly called a ‘probate shortcut’ because it is typically much simpler than the formal administration process. This is an option when the death occurred two or more years ago or, the total value of the estate (minus any property that does not need to go through probate) is $75,000 or less.

The summary administration option can complete the whole probate process far more quickly and with fewer expenses. The individual who is designated as the executor in the will is typically going to file a document titled, “Petition for Summary Administration.” Once completed, assuming it is all approved, the estate can be distributed to the heirs right away.

Formal Administration

In all other cases, the estate will go through a formal probate process. Probate proceedings start when a “Petition for Formal Administration” is filed. Any creditors of the estate as well as beneficiaries or heirs will be given notice.

The courts will issue the necessary documents and gather inventories of all the assets and debts (including taxes) that may apply to the state. During this time, anyone is also able to contest any wills that are on file. Should this occur, the will contest takes place as part of the overall probate process.

Depending on the size of the estate and whether or not anyone is contesting the will or other aspects, the formal administration of the probate process can take anywhere from six months to a year in most cases, and sometimes longer.

Costs of Probate

When going through the probate process you will need to have an attorney working on behalf of the estate. One nice thing about the state of Florida is that it has listed ‘reasonable’ fees that an attorney can charge based on the value of the estate going through probate (minus the total value of the homestead property, which is not counted). The statutory fees listed by the state are as follows:

  • $1,500 – For estates valued between $0 and $40,000
  • $2,250 – For estates valued between $40,001 and $70,000
  • $3,000 – For estates valued between $70,001 and $100,000
  • $3,000 plus 3% of estate property valued over $100,000 (for estates valued between $100,001 and $1 Million)
  • $30,000 plus 2.5% of estate property valued over $1 million (for estates valued between $1 million and $3 Million)
  • $50,000 plus 2% of estate property valued over $3 Million  (for estates valued between $3 million and $5 million)
  • $90,000 plus 1.5% of testate property valued over $5 Million (for estates valued between $5 million and $10 million)
  • $165,000 plus 1% of estate property valued over $10 Million (for all estates valued at or above $10 million)

This will give you an excellent starting point regarding how much the probate process is going to cost you, but it only covers ‘ordinary’ services. If the attorney performs additional tasks such as handling a will contest, the costs will go up.

As you can see, the probate process is not cheap, which is why it is so important to take steps today to minimize how much of your estate will have to go through the probate process when the time comes. To learn more about the probate process or how you can prepare for it, or how you can avoid probate, please contact us today.

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Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.