Probate attorney fees Florida residents face – this is one of the most frequently asked questions I get from clients who are going through the probate process and seeking attorney representation. As with most things, the cost of your probate attorney can vary depending on a variety of factors, but in the state of Florida, there are state statutes that regulate what is considered to be reasonable in terms of probate attorney fees.
Probate Attorney Fees Florida: What You Want to Know
Hiring a probate attorney to assist you with the probate process is a good move, but it’s not surprising that you want to know how much you can expect to pay for that legal help. The truth is that the fees that you can expect to pay depend on a variety of factors including the amount of work required for your case and where you are filing for probate. Since Weidner Law practices in the state of Florida, we’re going to focus on Florida for the purpose of this article.
Florida Probate Statutes on Reasonable Probate Attorney Fees
The state of Florida has statutes on the books that are designed to regulate the expense you face when hiring a probate attorney. Section 733.6171(3) of the Florida Statutes outlines what is considered by the state to be “reasonable” probate attorney fees and these are calculated based on the size of the estate going through probate. The statutes read as follows:
- A reasonable attorney fee for probate for an estate with a value of $40,000 is $1,500.
- A reasonable attorney fee for estates that have a value between $40,000 and $70,000 is $2,250.
- A reasonable attorney fee for estates that have a value between $70,000 and $100,000 is $3,000.
- A reasonable attorney fee for estates that have a value of over $100,000 is $3,000 plus 3% of the estate’s value on the next $900,000. So for estates that value up to $1 million, you could expect to pay $30,000.
- A reasonable attorney fee for estates that have a value of between $1 million and $3 million is $3,000 plus 2.5% of the estate’s value on the next $2,900,000. So for estates that value up to $3 million, you could expect to pay $75,500.
- A reasonable attorney fee for estates that have a value between $3 million and $5 million is $3,000 plus 2% of the estate’s value on the next $4,900,000. So for estates that value up to $5 million, you could expect to pay $101,000.
- A reasonable attorney fee for estates that have a value between $5 million and $10 million is $3,000 plus 1.5% of the estate’s value on the next $9,900,000. So for estates that value up to $10 million, you could expect to pay $151,500.
- A reasonable attorney fee for estates that have a value of over $10 million is $3,000 plus 1% of the estate’s value on any value above $10 million. So for estates that value up to $20 million, you could expect to pay $202,000.
In addition to the reasonable fees listed above, Florida state statute also provides that the probate attorney or personal representative for the estate is entitled to additional compensation for any services that are considered “extraordinary”. What is considered “extraordinary” for a probate case depends on the jurisdiction where probate is being filed and the individual estate in question.
State statutes (733.6171(4)) do list some examples of extraordinary services, these include:
(a) Involvement in a will contest, will construction, a proceeding for determination of beneficiaries, a contested claim, elective share proceeding, apportionment of estate taxes, or any adversarial proceeding or litigation by or against the estate.
(b) Representation of the personal representative in audit or any proceeding for adjustment, determination, or collection of any taxes.
(c) Tax advice on postmortem tax planning, including, but not limited to, disclaimer, renunciation of fiduciary commission, alternate valuation date, allocation of administrative expenses between tax returns, the QTIP or reverse QTIP election, allocation of GST exemption, qualification for Internal Revenue Code ss. 6166 and 303 privileges, deduction of last illness expenses, fiscal year planning, distribution planning, asset basis considerations, handling income or deductions in respect of a decedent, valuation discounts, special use and other valuation, handling employee benefit or retirement proceeds, prompt assessment request, or request for release of personal liability for payment of tax.
(d) Review of estate tax return and preparation or review of other tax returns required to be filed by the personal representative.
(e) Preparation of the estate’s federal estate tax return. If this return is prepared by the attorney, a fee of one-half of 1 percent up to a value of $10 million and one-fourth of 1 percent on the value in excess of $10 million of the gross estate as finally determined for federal estate tax purposes, is presumed to be reasonable compensation for the attorney for this service. These fees shall include services for routine audit of the return, not beyond the examining agent level, if required.
(f) Purchase, sale, lease, or encumbrance of real property by the personal representative or involvement in zoning, land use, environmental, or other similar matters.
(g) Legal advice regarding carrying on of the decedent’s business or conducting other commercial activity by the personal representative.
(h) Legal advice regarding claims for damage to the environment or related procedures.
(i) Legal advice regarding homestead status of real property or proceedings involving that status and services related to protected homestead.
(j) Involvement in fiduciary, employee, or attorney compensation disputes.
(k) Proceedings involving ancillary administration of assets not subject to administration in this state.
Additionally, state statutes in Florida also incorporate the ability of probate court to reduce compensation for probate attorneys or personal representatives if a petition is made by an interested party based on a failure to perform the necessary duties efficiently and properly.
Have Questions About Probate Attorney Fees Florida Residents Face?
If you have questions about probate attorney fees in Florida or are seeking assistance with the probate process, Weidner Law can help. Give us a call today at 727-954-8752 so that we can set up a consultation and get started on your case right away.