If a person dies and nominates you as a personal representative of their estate, you will have many responsibilities regarding distributing that individuals' assets. One issue you will need to address is hiring a Florida probate lawyer.
Hiring a lawyer to handle probate administration tasks will come with certain expenses. You likely have questions regarding the amount of attorney fees you will need to pay to complete the probate process. The fees will vary depending on several factors, including the size of the estate. Florida state law includes limits the amount of probate fees that a lawyer can charge. Below is more information regarding what you can expect when you hire a Florida probate lawyer. If you have questions, contact Loshak Leach, LLP, to consult with one of our probate attorneys.
How Florida Probate Attorneys Calculate Their Fees
Florida Statute 733.6171 states the fees an attorney can reasonably charge to administer an estate. It is important to note that certain estates will qualify for summary administration and reduced filing fees and costs, but only estates worth small sums will qualify. The following calculations indicate the fees that the court feels are reasonable and that you will likely pay in a Florida probate case:
The statute also allows attorneys to charge an hourly rate and additional probate fees in cases where the estate administration is particularly complex, such as when someone is contesting the will.
To understand the likely attorney fees, you will need first to determine the value of the estate. The compensable value of the estate, which is the amount the above fees will depend upon, is the value after removing the homestead property and personal property from the total.
It might also be possible to use a different method to determine compensation as long as the manner is clear to the attorneys and the client and does not conflict with Florida Statute 733.6171(2). The attorneys at Loshak Leach, LLP offer a reasonable hourly fee rate capped at the amount listed in the statute. We work to keep our fees lower than most competitors because we strive to offer our clients reasonable rates.
Estate Planning Tools Can Avoid Probate
Probate administration can be costly and take a long time to complete. Fortunately, there are ways that individuals can avoid probate entirely and plan for easier administration by creating an estate plan.
Below are several strategies that will help your family bypass probate:
Living Trusts: A living trust is one of the most common ways of avoiding probate. If you create a living trust, that trust owns the assets and can pass to your beneficiaries through trust administration rather than probate. Trust administration is a more straightforward process and typically will not require the court's oversight.
Payable on Death Accounts: Another strategy for bypassing probate is payable on death designation for a bank account. A payable-on-death account may be a savings account where you control the money until the time of your death. The beneficiary directly receives that money without needing to go through probate.
Transfer on Death Deeds: Although transfer on death deeds are not an option based on Florida law, there is a different form of deed that can accomplish a similar function. A ladybird deed is a type of enhanced life estate. This designation will help real estate pass without going through probate.
Titling: Proper use of titles can also help families avoid probate. For instance, joint ownership with rights of survivorship or tenancy by entirety will allow the property to move from the decedent's estate enter the beneficiaries' ownership without probate. This process will also work for vehicles.
Taking the time to create a detailed estate plan can help protect your loved ones. Creating a trust or using these other tools or provide you with some peace of mind. It is essential to understand that drafting a will alone will not avoid probate. Although wills are sometimes a valuable part of an estate plan, it is wise to understand how other options may provide additional benefits and save time, money, and stress for your family.
Speak to a Florida Probate Attorney Today
If you are handling a loved one's probate estate, you will likely require legal counsel from an experienced Florida probate lawyer. An estate planning lawyer could also help you draft your documents to protect your loved ones in the future.
Probate administration and estate planning can be confusing and intricate. Call Loshak Leach, LLP to speak to one of our dedicated Florida probate and estate planning lawyers.