As a probate lawyer, Nathan Dougherty, understands the unique requirements and emotional considerations of dealing with a loved one’s estate. You can count on Nathan to provide you with diligent representation, and providing you with the support and dignity necessary to help you through this difficult time.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process through which a deceased persons assets are transferred after the property owner’s death. A lot of people try to choose an estate plan that avoids the costly expense of the probate process, but nevertheless, most, but not all, estates will go through some sort of probate process. It may be the more simplified, Summary Administration, or the more complex Formal Administration, or sometimes with minimal assets, a Disposition Without Administration is more appropriate
The legally complex, and sometimes expensive, legal process of probating an estate involves the gathering and distribution of assets, as well as the paying off of debts according to the Law, or Will / Estate Plan. Without a Will or Estate plan, probate will still take place and a personal representative will be appointed by the court. Generally, the personal representative carries out these tasks while an experienced probate attorney carries out the legal tasks of probate. A probate lawyer by your side will be used to complete the forms, process, and costs of the probate process. While the personal representative, who is usually a family member or close family friend, is dealing with the overwhelming emotional effects of planning funerals, dealing with distraught family members, all while trying to work and take care of his/her own family; he or she is also trying to navigate the complicated legal process of probate, which if done wrong can have disastrous consequences.
Will probate require court appearances?
No. Probate does not usually require court appearances, which is why a licensed FL attorney can probate an estate anywhere in Florida. Even though I am a Port Charlotte Probate attorney that administers probate matters in Punta Gorda, Englewood, and North Port; quite frequently I probate estates in Jacksonville, Broward, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Miami Dade, Orlando, and pretty much every county in Florida.
Ancillary Probate is for out of State residents to be able to settle a probate estate of property located in Florida.
What are Probate Fees?
In Florida the fees change from county to county but not significantly. The government fees usually range from $300-$400, and publication costs to creditors are generally less than $100. These fees are not included in my retainer fee.
What are my attorney fees for Probate?
I charge a flat fee retainer of $1500 for most probate and non-probate estates, probate attorney fees could be less for estates with low assets, or more for probate estates with larger and more numerous assets. Please call for a free case evaluation so I can quote you a more accurate price.
For Minimal Estates – Disposition Without Administration is the least complicated and cost effective way of processing an estate. The governing Fl Stat. 735.301, contains strict requirements. Real property is not included in this process and must be transferred through one of the forms of probate administration listed below. Also, the value of the assets must not exceed the value of final expenses, such as, funeral expenses, and recent medical costs, but there are some assets that are exempt from this requirement. Exempt assets include $20,000 of household furniture, two motor vehicles used as the decedent’s personal motor vehicles, and qualified tuition programs under the IRS Code. Receipts must be gathered and submitted as proof of payment. The purpose of this informal process is designed to transfer assets of the deceased to the person who paid for funeral expenses and final medical costs. This is the only type of administration that can be done without a probate attorney, however a probate attorney can also assist you in this process for a nominal fee.
Summary Probate Administration
This type of simplified and quicker administration is for estates under $75,000 (not including homestead property), or when the decedent has been dead for more than two years. Summary administration will avoid the appointment of a personal representative. A Petition for Summary Administration is submitted to the proper court asking to distribute the assets according to the law or per the Will. If the petition is granted the court will issue an Order of Summary Administration, allowing assets to be distributed to the correct beneficiaries. A probate lawyer will be able to file the probate petition and expedite the process for you.
Formal Probate Administration
This is the more complex and lengthy type of probate administration that is required if the estate not including exempt assets is greater than $75,000. A probate lawyer must be used in formal probate administration, also a personal representative must be appointed by the court regardless of what the Will states. A probate attorney will prepare the documents and file with the correct court, and assist and advise the personal representative on how to publish the Notice to Creditors required by statute, asses the determination of homestead if appropriate, distribute assets to beneficiaries after creditors have been satisfied, prepare final tax returns, sale of property, obtain the execution of all documents by all beneficiaries, and closing of the estate. A Personal Representative is the only person that has standing to defend an estate involving litigation, a probate lawyer will act as the attorney that represents the Personal Representative against all others.
Trust administration costs about the same as probate but can be administered much faster and more privately, since a trust is not filed with the court, whereas a will must be filed with the court and is part of the public record.
If you have an Estate to Probate or a Will to be drafted,
Call NATHAN DOUGHERTY LAW P.A.