When someone passes away in Florida, it’s common (but not always a given) that their estate will have to go through the court process known as probate. Probate is the legal court proceeding that begins administering (settling) an estate. There actually isn’t a legal requirement to probate a Will in Florida, but you must file a Will with the court within ten days of finding out about the death of the estate owner.
Probate starts by nominating an Executor (also called a Personal Representative), an act that gives legal authority to pay off any debts and taxes the estate might owe. After that, they can then distribute the remaining assets to inheritors and beneficiaries.
A common question people often have as they navigate the probate process has to do with the actual cost of probate in Florida. Despite this being a pretty normal question, unfortunately there isn’t one clear answer. How much probate fees in Florida are is largely dependent on a variety of factors, including:
Estate value and location
How complicated the estate is
If there are any people who contest the Will
What sort of Estate Plans have been created
Whether or not you use a probate attorney
Though the average cost of probate in Florida is based on a number of factors, the biggest cost typically has to do with attorney fees. We’ll look at this below.
Common Probate Fees in Florida
Yes, probate fees in Florida will have a wide range, but you can count on a few things almost certainly needing to be paid. If you’re going through probate, you’ll probably have to take care of the following:
Court and filing fees
Attorney fees (if you use a probate attorney)
Appraisal fees, Land Survey fees and Accounting fees
Executor fees/compensation - Florida is a reasonable compensation state
Executor/Probate Bonds are generally required by county courts in Florida (price will range)
Common Questions About Probate in Florida
How Long Does Probate Take in Florida?
In Florida, formal probate can take six - nine months for “normal” cases. Complicated or contested estates can take longer, and simple estates and informal probates can be much quicker. There are a few ways to settle an estate in Florida:
Assets that don’t require probate - Property held in Joint Tenancy; assets already designated to a beneficiary like a Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) asset; assets held in a Living Trust).
No probate - Disposition Without Administration - when final expenses cost more than the value of the estate).
Summary administration - A shortcut to the probate process that can be used if death occurred two or more years ago; or, if the estate value is less than $75,000.
Formal administration- Normal probate process; often the longest of the options and can be the most costly.
What is UPC in Florida?
Florida adopted the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) to try and create a uniformed, streamlined probate process. Unfortunately, with just 18 total states adopting the code, it’s not as effective as it was intended to be. UPC notes there are three types of probate proceedings:
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Florida?
Wondering about probate attorney fees in Florida? You’re right to be concerned. Attorney fees in Florida can be the largest expense in the entire probate process. In fact, the state is one of just a handful that sets statutory fees based on the value of an estate. Fees can range from $1,500 to anywhere from one to three percent of the value, from $100,000 to $10M.
How Can You Avoid Probate in Florida?
There are several ways you can avoid having to go through the probate process in Florida. Titling property as Joint Tenancy is one way. Under the Right of Survivorship, jointly titled property can easily pass to the surviving owner.
Another option is ensuring that all of your beneficiary-designated accounts are up-to-date with proper primary and contingent beneficiaries.
You can also set up a Revocable Living Trust, funded properly with your assets.
And finally, you could create an Enhanced Life Estate Deed. Also known as a Lady Bird Deed, this is seen by some as being an effective Estate Planning strategy.
What is Considered a Small Estate in Florida?
Small estates in Florida can qualify for a “simplified probate process.” To use this process, an
Executor just has to submit a written request to the local probate court. It can be an option if all property in the estate is exempt from creditors claims and the value of the property is less than $75,000, or in cases where the estate owner has been deceased longer than two years.
Who Pays Probate Fees in Florida?
Most fees associated with probate in Florida would be paid for out of the estate. This could include everything from probate lawyer fees in Florida, to other administration and Personal Representative compensation fees.