What Are The Costs Associated With A Florida Probate Action?
Ideally, estate planning is tackled before a crisis occurs, and long before someone’s health prevents them from making informed decisions about their assets and liabilities. However, reality sets in, life is hectic, people get busy and put off applying for life insurance, drafting a will or preparing their estate to avoid probate. Some people assume probate cannot be that expensive or will not be a hassle for their loved ones when they pass on, but probate is completely avoidable in most cases. When it cannot be avoided, it can be time consuming and the costs range dramatically. How are probate costs determined and what can loved ones expect to pay if a decedent dies without a will?
What are the Standard Probate Filing Fees in Florida?
If a decedent’s estate is not eligible for summary administration or disposition without administration, there are fees associated with filing in the court of jurisdiction. For example, in Sumter County, the formal administration filing fee is $400, the fee for summary administration is $235, and the fee for disposition of property without administration is $231. When assets exceed $100,000 an additional fee of $170 is assessed. In addition, attorneys’ fees are set by Fla. Stat. §733.6171. For an estate without a value at approximately 100,000, the base attorney’s fee would be $3,000, plus 3% of total value of the estate over $100,000. Other fees that are often unexpected include the cost of publishing a notice of creditors in local newspapers, the cost of obtaining a notary, or other administrative costs.
What about Summary Administration & Disposition without Administration?
If the decedent passed on leaving no property whatsoever, or if their assets do not exceed final expenses (like the cost of filing for probate or funeral expenses) their estate does not go through the formal probate administration process. Instead an interested person (like a relative) or a personal representative can file a form referred to as a Disposition of Personal Property without Administration with the court of jurisdiction. Usually the county in which the decedent resided has jurisdiction over the estate. There is a small filing associated with the petition, and the petitioner needs to provide a copy of the decedent’s death certificate, a will if there was one, and often proof of final expenses and proof of the decedent’s assets or lack thereof indicating the final value of their estate.
If the decedent passed away more than two years ago and an estate has not been opened yet, or if the estate’s value is less than $75,000, a personal representative can file for summary administration. Summary administration is an expedited version of a traditional probate action with smaller costs associated. A beneficiary or personal representative must file a petition for summary administration in the court of jurisdiction, along with a list of the decedent’s assets and liabilities, often referred to as an accounting. As long as there is not a dispute as to distribution of assets, or active creditor claims against the estate, a probate judge will issue a formal order releasing the decedent’s property to rightful heirs.
Contact Villages Probate Attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group
If you recently lost someone and they died intestate, you will need help opening an estate and beginning the probate administration process. Our estate planning attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group serve clients throughout The Villages. Call today to schedule a consultation.