As a probate attorney, I am often asked how much probate costs. Florida does not have a state income tax, which is great. However, this means that our state collects money through fees so there can be quite a few fees collected as part of the probate costs.
There are two main types of probate in Florida, summary and formal. The probate costs discussed in this article are typical for a formal probate administration.
Filing the Last Will and Testament
If there is a last will and testament, Florida law requires that the original last will and testament be filed with the clerk of court. Some counties will charge for the receipt. Pinellas County currently charges $7 for the receipt.
Filing fee for Opening the Formal Probate Administration
The filing fee varies by county. Currently, Pinellas County charges $400 for a formal administration.
After the judge issues Letters of Administration appointing the personal representative, the personal representative will need certified copies in order to present the Letters of Administration to the financial institutions to start collecting assets. Currently, Pinellas County charge $1 per page plus $2 to certify the copy. Therefore, a certified copy of a two page order is $4.
Depending on the circumstances, the probate judge may require the personal representative to have a bond. This is to protect the beneficiaries from the personal representative not doing his or her job properly.
The amount of the bond will vary. The probate judge will take several factors into consideration when setting the bond amount. The last will and testament may say that the personal representative does not need a bond. The judge will also consider the amount of assets in the estate, the type of assets, the relationship of the personal representative to the beneficiaries, and the creditors.
Publishing the Notice to Creditors
The personal representative is required to publish the Notice to Creditors. Publication costs vary by newspaper but are currently in the $100 range.
If there is real estate, the death certificate will need to be recorded in the Public Records of the county where the real estate is located. Other documents may also need to be recorded. Recording costs vary by county. Currently, Pinellas County charges $10 for the first page of a document and $8.50 for each additional page of the same document.
The above are probate costs are for a formal probate administration and are not attorney’s fees. While attorneys are free to set their own rates, Florida law states that it is presumed reasonable for attorneys to charge 3% of the value of the estate for estates up to one million dollars for ordinary services. In addition, the attorney’s fee may be more if there are extraordinary services provided. Extraordinary services include contested wills, disputes or litigation, preparing a federal estate tax return, the sale of real estate, carrying on the deceased’s business, and ancillary administration.
This article is for information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. The costs described in this article can change. If you need to probate a will and want to know the current probate costs, call us at 813-852-6500 to schedule a free consultation with a probate attorney.