So a loved one has died and you’ve been advised that it’s now necessary to open a probate administration in Florida. One of the first things you will need to do is hire a Florida Probate Attorney to assist you. All Personal Representatives in Florida Probate cases, are required to have an attorney represent them in those proceedings. Unfortunately, experienced Florida Probate Attorneys aren’t free, so how do you determine what are reasonable Florida probate attorney’s fees? Florida Staute 733.6171 sets forth the requirements for determining the compensation of an attorney for a Florida Personal Representative. Feel free to click on the link above to see the full Statute, but here are a few excerpts.
Compensation for ordinary services of attorneys in formal estate administration is presumed to be reasonable if based on the compensable value of the estate, which is the inventory value of the probate estate assets and the income earned by the estate during the administration as provided in the following schedule:
(a) One thousand five hundred dollars for estates having a value of $40,000 or less.
(b) An additional $750 for estates having a value of more than $40,000 and not exceeding $70,000.
(c) An additional $750 for estates having a value of more than $70,000 and not exceeding $100,000.
(d) For estates having a value in excess of $100,000, at the rate of 3 percent on the next $900,000.
(e) At the rate of 2.5 percent for all above $1 million and not exceeding $3 million.
(f) At the rate of 2 percent for all above $3 million and not exceeding $5 million.
(g) At the rate of 1.5 percent for all above $5 million and not exceeding $10 million.
(h) At the rate of 1 percent for all above $10 million.
In addition to fees for ordinary services, the attorney for the personal representative shall be allowed further reasonable compensation for any extraordinary service. You may ask, what is an extraordinary service? These include but are not limited to, 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. Representation of the personal representative in tax audit, tax advice on postmortem tax planning, review of estate tax return and preparation or review of other tax returns required to be filed by the personal representative. These are just a few of the many extraordinary services offered by Florida Probate Attorneys.
While the fee schedule provided under Florida Statute 733.6171 sets forth the amount of fees presumed reasonable for an attorney assisting a Personal Representative in ordinary administration matters, our office does not believe these fees are always fair or reasonable. An uncontested probate estate administration for a probate estate valued at $500,000.00 in liquid assets will typically require the same amount of work as an uncontested probate estate with a value of $3 million in liquid assets. However, based solely on the fee schedule set forth in the statute as reasonable, the probate attorney handling the larger estate will receive nearly double the amount in fees as the probate attorney handling the larger estate, despite doing nearly the same amount of work. Again, this does not apply to probate estates involved in litigation or other extraordinary services beyond the scope of ordinary administration matters. The Law Offices of Christopher P. Taylor will work on a fee arrangement that is right for clients involved in probate administration cases based on the amount of work anticipated, not always the amounts set forth as standard and reasonable under Florida Statute 733.6171.
If you have a probate, trust or guardianship matter in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach Counties, contact Florida Probate Attorney Christopher P. Taylor. to discuss what fee arrangement might be best suited for your particular probate matter.