Attorney fees for probate are something that many people wonder about. If you have been designated as the personal representative of an estate, you will likely need a probate attorney to help you. As a result, it is likely that you need to know about attorney fees for probate. Although there are many types of attorney fees for probate, we’re going to take a look at the compensation for attorneys of the personal representative. As a matter of fact, the Florida Statute that deals with compensation for personal representatives is titled, “Compensation of attorney for the personal representation”. Let’s take a look at this statute.
Attorney Fees for Probate in the Florida Statutes
If you are a personal representative and need the legal assistance of a probate attorney, then Florida Statute 733.6171 is extremely relevant when you are wondering about the costs.
“733.6171 Compensation of attorney for the personal representative.—
(1) Attorneys for personal representatives shall be entitled to reasonable compensation payable from the estate assets without court order.
(2) The attorney, the personal representative, and persons bearing the impact of the compensation may agree to compensation determined in a different manner than provided in this section. Compensation may also be determined in a different manner than provided in this section if the manner is disclosed to the parties bearing the impact of the compensation and if no objection is made as provided for in the Florida Probate Rules.
(3) 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.
(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 an extraordinary service may vary depending on many factors, including the size of the estate. Extraordinary services may include, but are not limited to:
(a) 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.
(b) Representation of the personal representative in audit or any proceeding for adjustment, determination, or collection of any taxes.
(c) Tax advice on postmortem tax planning, including, but not limited to, disclaimer, renunciation of fiduciary commission, alternate valuation date, allocation of administrative expenses between tax returns, the QTIP or reverse QTIP election, allocation of GST exemption, qualification for Internal Revenue Code ss. 6166 and 303 privileges, deduction of last illness expenses, fiscal year planning, distribution planning, asset basis considerations, handling income or deductions in respect of a decedent, valuation discounts, special use and other valuation, handling employee benefit or retirement proceeds, prompt assessment request, or request for release of personal liability for payment of tax.
(d) Review of estate tax return and preparation or review of other tax returns required to be filed by the personal representative.
(e) Preparation of the estate’s federal estate tax return. If this return is prepared by the attorney, a fee of one-half of 1 percent up to a value of $10 million and one-fourth of 1 percent on the value in excess of $10 million of the gross estate as finally determined for federal estate tax purposes, is presumed to be reasonable compensation for the attorney for this service. These fees shall include services for routine audit of the return, not beyond the examining agent level, if required.
(f) Purchase, sale, lease, or encumbrance of real property by the personal representative or involvement in zoning, land use, environmental, or other similar matters.
(g) Legal advice regarding carrying on of the decedent’s business or conducting other commercial activity by the personal representative.
(h) Legal advice regarding claims for damage to the environment or related procedures.
(i) Legal advice regarding homestead status of real property or proceedings involving that status and services related to protected homestead.
(j) Involvement in fiduciary, employee, or attorney compensation disputes.
(k) Proceedings involving ancillary administration of assets not subject to administration in this state.
(5) Upon petition of any interested person, the court may increase or decrease the compensation for ordinary services of the attorney or award compensation for extraordinary services if the facts and circumstances of the particular administration warrant. In determining reasonable compensation, the court shall consider all of the following factors, giving weight to each as it determines to be appropriate:
(a) The promptness, efficiency, and skill with which the administration was handled by the attorney.
(b) The responsibilities assumed by and the potential liabilities of the attorney.
(c) The nature and value of the assets that are affected by the decedent’s death.
(d) The benefits or detriments resulting to the estate or interested persons from the attorney’s services.
(e) The complexity or simplicity of the administration and the novelty of issues presented.
(f) The attorney’s participation in tax planning for the estate and the estate’s beneficiaries and tax return preparation, review, or approval.
(g) The nature of the probate, nonprobate, and exempt assets, the expenses of administration, the liabilities of the decedent, and the compensation paid to other professionals and fiduciaries.
(h) Any delay in payment of the compensation after the services were furnished.
(i) Any other relevant factors.
(6) If a separate written agreement regarding compensation exists between the attorney and the decedent, the attorney shall furnish a copy to the personal representative prior to commencement of employment, and, if employed, shall promptly file and serve a copy on all interested persons. Neither a separate agreement nor a provision in the will suggesting or directing that the personal representative retain a specific attorney will obligate the personal representative to employ the attorney or obligate the attorney to accept the representation, but if the attorney who is a party to the agreement or who drafted the will is employed, the compensation paid shall not exceed the compensation provided in the agreement or in the will.” (2018).
What we see above is a glimpse into the costs of the probate administration process for a personal representative who is seeking the assistance of a probate attorney. There are additional considerations that are made for costs, but this is the Florida statute that specifically looks at compensation for an attorney of the personal representative during the probate administration process.
Attorney Fees for Probate: Ask us at Bret Jones, P.A.
At Bret Jones, P.A. we can discuss attorney fees for probate with you in detail. We understand that the details regarding attorney fees can sometimes seem confusing. We want you to feel free to ask us any questions about attorney fees for probate and any other legal questions you may have. Ask us at Bret Jones, P.A.