Everything You Need to Know
about Probate Attorney In Florida

florida probate

When a person dies, the assets they leave behind is referred to as their estate and their assets have to be transferred. Some pass by joint ownership, such as real property and bank accounts. Some pass by designation of beneficiary, such a 401(k)’s and life insurance. Some pass because of a POD (payable on death) designation on a bank account. Some pass by contract. Often people avoid probate by putting assets in a revocable living trust.

But what if their estate must go through a judicial process known as probate? This legal procedure a deceased person’s estate goes through after they pass away. During this legal proceeding, a court will start the process of distributing the estate to the proper heirs.

Probate is always easier if a deceased person has a Will they have prepared before dying. Everyone has a Will. It is either the one a person has prepared for themselves or the one in Florida law that spells out who inherits in the absence of a Will. It is called intestate (without a Will) distribution. The intestate process obviously becomes more complicated because there is no documentation stating a person’s final wishes. Decisions are up to the courts to handle proceedings and make all decisions for those who could have made those decisions while living. Since there is no Will waiving the bond, the personal representative will have to secure a surety bond at the expense of the estate.

If someone has a Will, it will name the personal representative and name the beneficiaries. The personal representative, named by the court in the absence of a Will is the person charged with overseeing the estate, managing the estate assets, paying the decedents bills, and satisfying creditors and ultimately distributing the estate assets to the beneficiaries.

Just because a Will states where assets are to go and to whom, the Will still has to go through probate to transfer title!

There are two types of Probate Attorney In Florida. If the value of the assets, excluding homestead property is less than $75,000, the probate can be a summary administration, which is faster and less expensive. If the value of the assets exceeds $75,000, then a formal administration is required with publication of notice to creditors.

How Long Does Probate Take?

Probate can take varying amounts of time. In cases where estates are small and there are no issues to attend to, the average time to complete the probate process, could be less than a year. Six to nine months is common, if everything is seamless, and nobody tries to contest anything.

In complicated or contested situations, the process can take several years. In very extreme cases, it could even take decades before an estate is settled. While many factors go into the actual timeline for probate – such as presence or lack of a Will; size of an estate; disgruntled beneficiaries; or complicated estates – one of the best ways to ensure a timely, easy probate is by properly and effectively execute your Estate Planning.

How Much Does Probate Cost?

There are several costs involved in the probate process. Factors like if you have a Will, how big your estate is and where you reside at the time of your passing will all contribute to how much probate costs.

Expect the following costs:

  • Attorney fees: In Florida, an attorney is required by law to handle probate. His or her fees would be paid out of the estate. The Florida statutory attorney fee is 3% of the estate assets.
  • Compensation for your Personal Representative: Florida has a statutory guideline for minimum Personal Representative compensation which is 3% of the estate assets. It’s no easy task, so compensating them for the time they will invest in settling your estate makes sense.
  • Probate bond: Also known as a Fiduciary or Personal Representative Bond unless your Will outright states this is unnecessary. Bond premiums are based on a percentage of the estate assets.
  • Court fees: Counties have individual filing fees, usually about $500.
  • Creditor notice fees: You must file notices in local newspapers and/or in other forms of communication to alert creditors and Beneficiaries of a death. There will be a cost associated with these announcements, and they too will be paid out of the estate.

Probate is the entire process of administering a deceased person’s estate. This involves organizing their money, assets and possessions and distributing them as inheritance – after paying any taxes and debts. If the deceased has left a Will, it will name someone that they’ve chosen to administer their estate. It can be a lengthy and costly process, but the TEP Law Firm has reasonable costs and manages the time to complete the probate process.

This is why our clients are always satisfied and refer us to their family members and friends.