If you are a personal representative, or executor, of an estate in Florida, you may be confused about how to find a probate administration attorney. This can be especially confusing if you live outside of Florida.
Below are answers to some questions the lawyers at Statewide Probate have received regarding finding a probate attorney and the applicable fees.
Florida has many excellent probate attorneys, in all counties, and we understand that some personal representatives will prefer to hire a local attorney. At Statewide Probate, part of the Pensacola firm of McDonald Fleming Moorhead, we are not "local" to the courthouse except in Northwest Florida, but we don't need to be as long as the U.S. Postal Service keeps working. The papers and proposed orders our probate and estate lawyers file with the probate office by mail should be exactly the same papers walked over by a law firm across the street from the courthouse. In neither case does the client (personal representative) go to court. We offer Florida personal representatives, wherever they are located, a modern, efficient, and economical method of handling their legal estate duties.
Our firm handles estates throughout all of Florida, with a rare temporary exception where a county is "experimenting" or imposing unpredictable local rules and we would rather not be involved until the probate procedure "settles down." Statewide Probate has handled estates in Pensacola, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers, Orlando, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, and throughout Florida.
Usually not. Most probate administrations are uncontested and undisputed, in which case neither the attorney nor the personal representative actually goes to court. All the paperwork is handled by mail. Therefore most estates can be handled by any Florida-licensed probate attorney, regardless of where he or she may actually have his or her office. If there is a court hearing, sometimes the attorney can appear by phone. If a personal appearance in court is required, the probate lawyer can retain a local attorney for that limited purpose, with the client's permission.
Florida allows estate lawyers to charge up to 3% of the estate value in fees. At Statewide Probate, we believe that this fee structure tends to overcharge for probate administration in many cases. Depending on the size of the estate and time needed to handle the probate administration, we offer both a flat probate fee and hourly rates for our estate attorney and paralegal services.
Should you pay more in probate fees just because your attorney is local? At Statewide Probate, we don't think so. Our probate fees are based on the amount of work our legal team has to do, not on how much your Florida estate is worth. To help you determine if our estate attorneys can best serve your probate needs and save you money in fees, Statewide Probate offers a free 20-minute probate consultation. To speak with a qualified Florida probate attorney, contact our law firm today.