What’s the Cost of Probate in Florida?

What’s the Cost of Probate in Florida?

What is Probate?

Whenever someone dies in Florida, their assets almost always need to pass through probate court before they can go on to the designated heirs or beneficiaries. While not every estate can avoid probate, planning your estate early on can help offset future costs. Ultimately, taking the time now can help spare your loved ones a lot of money, time, and additional hardship during an already difficult period in their lives. Here’s a breakdown of the different costs associated with Florida probate courts to help you with planning your estate.

Court Fees

The first series of expenses that you need to be aware of are directly associated with the probate court itself. Instead of a flat fee or a percent of the estate, the cost of filing with the probate court in Florida is determined on a sort of a la carte basis based on your specific documents and circumstances. For example, you’ll need to pay to initially file the decedent’s will, and there are other fees to satisfy on top of that, such as audit fees and bond approval fees. There are even additional fees to administer oaths and for each defendant over the age of five.

Executor Fees

Acting as an executor is practically a job in and of itself. In Florida, executors are entitled to a percentage of the decedent’s estate as compensation for their work. This starts at 3% of the first million dollars, 2.5% on the next four million dollars, and 2% on the next five million dollars. However, a higher amount can be specified in the will at the grantor’s discretion. Executors also have the option of declining this compensation, as sometimes happens when a beneficiary is also administering to an estate.

Probate Bonds

Also known as estate bonds or fiduciary bonds, probate bonds exist to protect both beneficiaries and creditors from the possible mismanagement of the estate or bad behavior on the behalf of the executor. This includes everything from unintentional neglect to outright theft. The executor or other estate administrator will have to pay an issuer fee to obtain the bond. However, in Florida, the cost bond can often be refunded minus said issuer fee once the probate process is complete.

Creditor Notice Fees

In Florida, when a person dies, the executor or representative of their estate is required to provide notice to potential creditors so that they can collect on any existing debts. There are two steps to satisfying this requirement. First, notice needs to be published in a newspaper located in the same county as the decedent’s estate. This publication must run once a week for two consecutive weeks. The cost of this depends on the chosen newspaper. Second, the executor should mail a copy of the notice to all known and reasonably knowable creditors, which – assuming no one comes to collect – shouldn’t run you more than the price of a few postage stamps.

Attorney Fees

You’ll also need to pay your attorney if you hired one to assist you through Florida’s arduous probate process. Unlike most of the other expenses on this list, this one can potentially save you money in the long run. It can spare the decedent’s survivors a lot of stress and time spent as well. This is because a lawyer’s have a multitude of modalities and strategies that can speed up the probate process and get assets delivered to beneficiaries that much faster. Some attorneys might ask for a percentage of the estate’s value as payment, while others offer hourly or flat-fee rates.

Now that you know just how costly Florida’s probate court can be, it’s time to take steps to protect your family’s financial future. Contact us today for help with your Florida estate plan by scheduling a time with our attorney through our online calendar, or by calling (727) 279-5037.

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FL Patel Law PLLC is a boutique business law firm dedicated to entrepreneurs and companies.

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