Florida probate attorney fees may vary depending on what you require for your legal needs. Probate attorneys help clients in many ways. As a result, Florida probate attorney fees vary.
Some of the items that a probate attorney may help with include what is required of a personal representative when giving a copy of the notice of administration, what is required in order to raise objections, and alternatives to formal administration. Let’s take a look at the beginning of the probate administration process which includes the production of wills.
Production of Wills
A probate attorney will be well versed in what is required during the production of wills. Florida Statute 732.901 details what is required during the production of wills:
“732.901 Production of wills.—
(1) The custodian of a will must deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead. The custodian must supply the testator’s date of death or the last four digits of the testator’s social security number to the clerk upon deposit.
(2) Upon petition and notice, the custodian of any will may be compelled to produce and deposit the will. All costs, damages, and a reasonable attorney’s fee shall be adjudged to petitioner against the delinquent custodian if the court finds that the custodian had no just or reasonable cause for failing to deposit the will.
(3) An original will submitted to the clerk with a petition or other pleading is deemed to have been deposited with the clerk.
(4) Upon receipt, the clerk shall retain and preserve the original will in its original form for at least 20 years. If the probate of a will is initiated, the original will may be maintained by the clerk with the other pleadings during the pendency of the proceedings, but the will must at all times be retained in its original form for the remainder of the 20-year period whether or not the will is admitted to probate or the proceedings are terminated. Transforming and storing a will on film, microfilm, magnetic, electronic, optical, or other substitute media or recording a will onto an electronic recordkeeping system, whether or not in accordance with the standards adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida, or permanently recording a will does not eliminate the requirement to preserve the original will.
(5) For purposes of this section, the term “will” includes a separate writing as described in s. 732.515.” (2018).
Notice & Objections
If you are a personal representative, you will likely need the assistance of a probate attorney. In addition to answers on Florida probate attorney fees, if you are a personal representative, you are probably have questions about a number of statutory requirements and duties you must adhere to. One of the duties of a personal representative is to serve a copy of the notice of administration to certain people. Let’s take a look at Florida Statute 733.212:
“733.212 Notice of administration; filing of objections.—
(1) The personal representative shall promptly serve a copy of the notice of administration on the following persons who are known to the personal representative:
(a) The decedent’s surviving spouse;
(c) The trustee of any trust described in s. 733.707(3) and each qualified beneficiary of the trust as defined in s. 736.0103, if each trustee is also a personal representative of the estate; and
(d) Persons who may be entitled to exempt property in the manner provided for service of formal notice, unless served under s. 733.2123. The personal representative may similarly serve a copy of the notice on any devisees under a known prior will or heirs or others who claim or may claim an interest in the estate.
(2) The notice shall state:
(a) The name of the decedent, the file number of the estate, the designation and address of the court in which the proceedings are pending, whether the estate is testate or intestate, and, if testate, the date of the will and any codicils.
(b) The name and address of the personal representative and the name and address of the personal representative’s attorney, and that the fiduciary lawyer-client privilege in s. 90.5021 applies with respect to the personal representative and any attorney employed by the personal representative.
(c) That any interested person on whom a copy of the notice of administration is served must file on or before the date that is 3 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on that person any objection that challenges the validity of the will, the venue, or the jurisdiction of the court. The 3-month time period may only be extended for estoppel based upon a misstatement by the personal representative regarding the time period within which an objection must be filed. The time period may not be extended for any other reason, including affirmative representation, failure to disclose information, or misconduct by the personal representative or any other person. Unless sooner barred by subsection (3), all objections to the validity of a will, venue, or the jurisdiction of the court must be filed no later than the earlier of the entry of an order of final discharge of the personal representative or 1 year after service of the notice of administration.
(d) That persons who may be entitled to exempt property under s. 732.402 will be deemed to have waived their rights to claim that property as exempt property unless a petition for determination of exempt property is filed by such persons or on their behalf on or before the later of the date that is 4 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on such persons or the date that is 40 days after the date of termination of any proceeding involving the construction, admission to probate, or validity of the will or involving any other matter affecting any part of the exempt property.
(e) That an election to take an elective share must be filed on or before the earlier of the date that is 6 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on the surviving spouse, or an attorney in fact or a guardian of the property of the surviving spouse, or the date that is 2 years after the date of the decedent’s death.
(3) Any interested person on whom a copy of the notice of administration is served must object to the validity of the will, the venue, or the jurisdiction of the court by filing a petition or other pleading requesting relief in accordance with the Florida Probate Rules on or before the date that is 3 months after the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration on the objecting person, or those objections are forever barred. The 3-month time period may only be extended for estoppel based upon a misstatement by the personal representative regarding the time period within which an objection must be filed. The time period may not be extended for any other reason, including affirmative representation, failure to disclose information, or misconduct by the personal representative or any other person. Unless sooner barred by this subsection, all objections to the validity of a will, venue, or the jurisdiction of the court must be filed no later than the earlier of the entry of an order of final discharge of the personal representative or 1 year after service of the notice of administration.
(4) The appointment of a personal representative or a successor personal representative shall not extend or renew the period for filing objections under this section, unless a new will or codicil is admitted.
(5) The personal representative is not individually liable to any person for giving notice under this section, regardless of whether it is later determined that notice was not required by this section. The service of notice in accordance with this section shall not be construed as conferring any right.
(6) If the personal representative in good faith fails to give notice required by this section, the personal representative is not liable to any person for the failure. Liability, if any, for the failure is on the estate.
(7) If a will or codicil is subsequently admitted to probate, the personal representative shall promptly serve a copy of a new notice of administration as required for an initial will admission.
(8) For the purpose of determining deadlines established by reference to the date of service of a copy of the notice of administration in cases in which such service has been waived, service shall be deemed to occur on the date the waiver is filed.” (2018).
Alternatives to Formal Administration
A probate attorney may also help you with information on alternatives to formal administration.
Florida probate attorney fees will vary depending on what type of help you receive from a probate attorney. If you are wondering about alternatives to formal administration, there is summary administration and disposition without administration. Florida Statute 735.301 in the Florida Probate code discusses small estates and disposition without administration:
“735.301 Disposition without administration.—
(1) No administration shall be required or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only personal property exempt under the provisions of s. 732.402, personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida, and nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness.
(2) Upon informal application by affidavit, letter, or otherwise by any interested party, and if the court is satisfied that subsection (1) is applicable, the court, by letter or other writing under the seal of the court, may authorize the payment, transfer, or disposition of the personal property, tangible or intangible, belonging to the decedent to those persons entitled.
(3) Any person, firm, or corporation paying, delivering, or transferring property under the authorization shall be forever discharged from liability thereon.” (2018).
Bret Jones, P.A. & Florida Probate Attorney Fees
At Bret Jones, P.A., we can help you with all your probate legal needs. Our attorneys and legal staff can discuss Florida probate attorney fees with you in detail. Your first consultation with us is free at Bret Jones, P.A. Contact us to find out about Florida probate attorney fees and more at Bret Jones, P.A.