In Florida, probate attorney’s fee amounts for attorneys hired by the personal representative are set as presumptively reasonable by section 733.6171(3) of the Florida Statutes as the presumptively reasonable fees for the services of attorneys in a formal administration of the probate estate. A formal administration of an probate estate occurs when the compensable value of the estate is over $40,000.00 and does not otherwise qualify for summary administration. The compensable value of the estate is the inventory value of probate estate assets and the income earned by the estate during the administration.
How can attorney’s fees be calculated in a Florida probate case?
The following fees are presumptively reasonable according to corresponding compensable value of the estate, according to section 733.6171(3) of the Florida Statutes:
- $1,500 attorney’s fee for estates having a value of $40,000 or less.
- An additional $750 for estates having a value of more than $40,000 and not exceeding $70,000.
- An additional $750.00 for estates having a value of more than $70,000 and not exceeding $100,000.
- For estates having a value in excess of $100,000, at the rate of 3% on the next $900,000.
- At the rate of 2.5% for all above $1 million and not exceeding $3 million.
- At the rate of 2% for all above $3 million and not exceeding $5 million.
- At the rate of 1.5% for all above $5 million and not exceeding $10 million.
- At the rate of 1% for all above $10 million.
- Furthermore, under section 733.6171(4), “In addition to fees for ordinary services, the attorney for the personal representative shall be allowed further reasonable compensation for any extraordinary service. What is extraordinary service may vary depending on may factors, including the size of the estate.” In section 733.6171(4), examples of extraordinary services are listed.
Additionally, depending on the complexity of the case, an attorney may charge an estate an hourly rate for the representation. Hourly billing typically occurs when the probate case is more complex than a typical case with a similar compensable value. Examples of this include cases where the decedent owned a closely held business, operated a business a sole proprietor, or owns property that is encumbered by a mortgage.
What is the compensable value of a probate estate?
The compensable value of a probate estate excludes the value of the homestead property of the decedent (person who passed away) and a small amount of personal property. Any assets in the probate estate above and beyond the homestead and personal property exemptions of the decedent are counted towards the compensable value of the probate estate.
How do you calculate the presumptively reasonable attorney’s fees?
Here are some examples of calculations of presumptively reasonable probate fees under Florida law in several situations:
- Estate value of $200,000, excluding homestead property exemptions: $6,000 presumptively reasonable fee for attorney for personal representative
- Estate value of $90,000, excluding homestead property exemptions: $3,000 presumptively reasonable fee for the attorney for personal representative
- Estate value of $1.5 million, excluding homestead property exemptions: $42,500 presumptively reasonable fee for the attorney for personal representative
As you can see, depending on the compensable value of the probate estate, a probate administration of a large estate can become quite costly. This is why it is important, especially if you have a large amount of nonexempt assets, to consult with an attorney about conducting estate planning. A proper estate plan that considers all of your assets and is able to take the proper legal steps can avoid entering probate after you pass away, making sure your loved ones are spared expensive attorney’s fees.
Can a personal representative receive reimbursement for attorney’s fees paid out of personal funds?
A personal representative, may be entitled to receive reimbursment of the attorney’s fees from the probate estate. Under section 733.6171, Florida Statutes, the attorney for a personal representative is entitled to be paid out of estate assets without court order. Furthermore, under section 733.707, Florida Statutes, payment of the personal representative’s fees and personal representative’s attorney’s fees is a Class 1 creditor. As a result, the personal representative’s attorney’s fees are paid before any other creditors durins a probate administration.
The only time that a person may not be reimbursed for attorney’s fees paid for a personal representative’s attorney is when the probate estate is composed enitrely of exempt assets. For example, if the only asset in a probate estate is exempt homestead, there is no estate property that can be used to pay creditors. Therefore, if there is a claim for attorney’s fees, the claim cannot be paid. In these cases, a beneficiary of the estate will pay the attorney, since they will receive a benefit from the probate. The beneficiary can then work out a deal outside of probate with the other beneficiaries, if they are on good terms, to receive reimbursement for the attorney’s fees if he or she wishes to do so.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
If you think that you may need to start a probate administration after losing a loved one, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. At the consulation one of our attorneys will be able to review the probate issues and may be able to give you an estimate of the total cost of the probate administration.