When Does Formal Probate Apply?
In Florida, the value of the estate determines what type of probate process will be used. Formal probate administration must be followed if the value of the estate is greater than $75,000 and the estate has commenced within two years of the decedent’s death.
You can read below about common questions people have regarding this process, and we also encourage you to reach out to us online for further questions about your specific case.
Who Can Be A Personal Representative Of An Estate?
If you live in Florida, you can be a personal representative as long as you do not have a felony conviction. You do not have to be related by blood to the deceased.
If you live outside of Florida, you must be related to the deceased by blood to be a personal representative.
How Long Does Formal Probate Take?
The length of the process will depend on factors in your individual case, though you can expect it to last for at least four months. It can take longer if there are complex issues that need to be addressed such as a will contest or creditor claim issue. However, most probate proceedings can be finished quickly once creditors have their required notice.
What Are The Steps Of The Process?
The lawyer at The Law Office of Nicole C. Morris, P.A., can act as personal representatives or guide representatives through each step of the process, which includes:
- Opening the estate: Appointing a personal representative, drafting and filing initial pleadings, and publishing a notice to creditors
- Administering the estate: Filing an inventory, selling assets to pay creditors and distributing assets to beneficiaries
- Closing the estate: Filing final federal income taxes and filing waivers and/or a formal accounting seeking to have the personal representative discharged
Our goal is to help you complete probate as quickly and cost-effectively as possible while meeting all the legal requirements.
Fees and Costs for Formal Probate
For a formal probate administration, there are certain costs that are unavoidable. One such fee is the filing fee made payable to the Clerk of Court in the county in which the person who passed away was a resident, it is always $401.00. This fee gets paid by the attorney filing the Petition for Administration and is for the privilege of using the court system to probate a matter.
Further, if a person passed away less than two (2) years ago, a Notice to Creditors is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the person who passed away was a resident. Florida law requires the Notice to Creditors be published on two (2) consecutive weeks. The newspaper then passes on these costs to the Estate. In Palm Beach County, the Daily Business Review publishes these Notices for a total cost of $199.00. In other counties, the newspapers may charge more. The highest fee we have seen is $265.00. We will advise what the fee is prior to being retained.
If a person passed away over two years ago, all creditor claims are barred. As such, there is no requirement to publish a Notice to Creditors.
Regarding attorney fees, in certain circumstances, our firm will charge a flat-fee for a formal probate administration. Some of those circumstances include, no litigation issues in the administration, minimal creditor claims, no in-fighting amongst beneficiaries, consents and waivers signed by beneficiaries and assets which are easy to marshal.
Very few firms are willing to charge a flat-fee for a formal administration, however, we believe you should not have to hold your breath every time you have questions for your probate lawyer. Again, this type of arrangement is not appropriate in all cases, contact us to discuss.
Should a flat-fee arrangement not be appropriate, probate administration matters are charged hourly. It is typical to collect a retainer at the inception of a matter (which is a prepayment of billable hours), then upon the depletion of the retainer, an invoice is sent monthly until the probate administration is closed.
Schedule A Probate Consultation
We provide an initial consultation to answer your questions about formal probate proceedings in Florida. Call 561-855-0348 or email us to schedule an appointment. We serve Palm Beach Gardens and families all over the country with loved ones in Florida.
The following flow chart shows the steps of formal probate: