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Tampa Estate Planning & Probate Attorney / Blog / Probate / How Do Probate Attorneys Fees Work in Florida?

How Do Probate Attorneys Fees Work in Florida?

The basics:

  1. Reasonable Fees: Florida law requires that attorney fees be reasonable for the services rendered. What is considered reasonable can vary depending on the complexity of the case, the time and effort required, and other factors.
  2. Statutory Fee Schedule: Florida Statutes, specifically Section 733.6171, outlines a statutory fee schedule for attorney compensation in probate cases. This fee schedule is based on a percentage of the value of the probate estate, as follows:
    • 3% for the first $1 million.
    • 2.5% for the next $4 million.
    • 2% for the next $5 million.
    • 1.5% for all above $10 million.
  3. Extraordinary Fees: Attorneys may also be entitled to receive extraordinary fees for services that go beyond the usual services provided in a routine probate case. These extraordinary fees must be approved by the court.

What makes up the “probate estate?”

  1. Real Property: Real estate, such as homes, land, and other properties, owned solely by the decedent.
  2. Personal Property: This category encompasses various personal possessions, including cars, jewelry, furniture, and household items.
  3. Financial Assets:
    • Bank Accounts: Bank accounts held solely in the name of the deceased.
    • Investment Accounts: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investment accounts held solely by the decedent.
    • Retirement Accounts: In some cases, retirement accounts like IRAs or 401(k)s may be part of the probate estate if no beneficiary is named or if the estate is designated as the beneficiary.
    • Life Insurance: Life insurance policies where the estate is the named beneficiary or if there is no named beneficiary.
  4. Business Interests: If the decedent owned a business, the business interest, shares, or partnership interests may be part of the probate estate.
  5. Debts Owed to the Decedent: Any money or debts owed to the decedent may be included in the estate. For example, if the decedent had outstanding loans or was owed money by someone, these are assets that should be accounted for in the probate process.
  6. Miscellaneous Assets: Other assets like royalties, intellectual property rights, and personal loans made by the decedent.

Are debts / loans subtracted from the probate estate prior to calculating attorney’s fees?

In Florida, for the purpose of calculating probate attorney fees, the value of the probate estate typically does not include subtracting loans or debts associated with the assets. The attorney fees are generally calculated based on the gross value of the assets in the probate estate. In other words, the debts associated with the assets are not typically deducted from the value when determining attorney fees.

Attorney fees in Florida are often based on a percentage of the total value of the assets in the probate estate, as outlined in the statutory fee schedule or as agreed upon by the client and the attorney. The fees are typically calculated before the payment of debts, expenses, and taxes.

It’s important to note that the treatment of debts and liabilities in the probate process itself is separate from the calculation of attorney fees. In probate, the decedent’s debts and liabilities are usually paid from the assets of the estate before distribution to beneficiaries. After the payment of debts, taxes, and expenses, the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries or heirs.

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