If you are the nominated personal representative to an estate, you will probably be looking for a probate attorney to help you in this difficult time. You need an attorney for a formal probate administration - i.e., when the probate estate exceeds $75,000 - to assist you. In this situation, you may be wondering about attorney's fees, among other matters. In Florida, the probate attorneys generally gets paid a fee of around 3% of the probate inventory, as explained a little better below.
Estimating the Cost to Hire a Florida Probate Attorney
Florida's probate rules were created to help define a reasonable attorney's fee based upon the size of the estate/probate. It's worth noting that the "value" of the estate includes only the assets that go through probate (and any income they earn during the probate period). The value of a homestead property and assets that avoid probate may not be counted.
Florida statutes set forth what are considered reasonable fees for Florida probate attorneys at the following rate:
- $1,500 for estates up to $40,000
- $2,250 for estates between $40,000 and $70,000
- $3,000 for estates between $70,000 and $100,000
- $3,000 plus 3% of the value over $100,000 for estates between $100,000 and $1 million
- $3,000 plus 2.5% of the value over $1 million for estates between $1 million and $3 million
- $3,000 plus 2% of the value above $3 million for estates between $3 million and $5 million
- $3,000, plus 1.5% on the value above $5 million for estates between $5 million and $10 million
- $3,000, plus 1% of the value above $10 million for estates over $10 million
Many attorneys have a minimum fee to do a probate that may exceed this schedule. One key to understanding the attorney's fee portion is that attorneys may be up for negotiating their fee depending on the size/complexity thereof. If the family is talking to a good probate attorney, that attorney will discuss the nuances of the work, their fees, expected costs, etc., before that attorney is hired. The 3% fee as mentioned above is not binding on the attorney or the family but it is a starting point for what is reasonable under most situations.
The fee schedule mentioned above is what is considered a reasonable fee, but fees may rise for what are considered extraordinary services. This may include dealing with taxes, litigation, real estate matters, how good the attorney is, etc., among other matters. The rules for all of this are set forth in Chapter 733, Florida Statutes, if you want to learn more.
Probate and Homestead
Generally speaking, the 3% fee does not include the value of the homestead property. While this can be pretty complex, the decedent's homestead is not part of the probate process so the attorney's fee is not based upon the value of the homestead property. Here, attorneys will charge a fee to declare the property as homestead, but that fee is generally not based upon the home value.
Other Costs of Probate?
The costs of probate include more than just attorney's fees, although that would typically be the most expensive fee. In going to court, the estate will generally need to have other costs, which may include court filing fees, bonds, publication fees, etc., In Pinellas County, we generally estimate the hard costs for the estate to be around $1,000 in most circumstances.