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Are You Overpaying for Probate Lawyer Fees?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2020 | Firm News

Have you just been named as your family member’s estate executor after his or her death? Then, you’ll need to know how much you can expect to pay in probate lawyer fees. According to Florida statutes, you must carry out formal administration in certain circumstances. This applies if the estate’s compensable value is higher than $40,000, and it doesn’t qualify for summary administration. So, what fees do the Florida statutes consider to be reasonable?

What Is Compensable Value?

Before going any further, you need to know what compensable value is. Essentially, it’s the estate’s value with the estate’s homestead property subtracted. There is also some personal property subtracted from the total value. The remainder goes toward the estate’s compensable value. There is, however, a common misconception that the compensable value includes the value of the homestead property. This sometimes leads to certain attorneys overcharging estate executors living in Key Largo and the Florida Keys.

Estate Values and Attorney Fees

Here is a quick overview of the fees deemed to be reasonable when handling different values of the estate:

Estates Worth
Reasonable Fee

$40,000 or less

$70,000 to $100,000

$100,000 to $900,000
3 percent of the value of the estate

$1 million to $3 million
2.5 percent of the value of the estate

$3 million to $5 million
2 percent of the value of the estate

$5 million to $10 million
1.5 percent of the value of the estate

$10 million and over
1 percent of the value of the estate

On top of these figures, attorneys may charge hourly rates, too. Meanwhile, others will charge flat fees. This is another way in which attorneys are overcharging people in Islamorada, Tavernier, and Plantation Key.

Ambiguity in the Statutes

One of the biggest issues with the Florida statutes is the ambiguity when it comes to probate attorney’s fees. We have already mentioned the common misconception about the estate’s compensable value including the homestead’s value. There is another problem to bear in mind, too. This is the flat fee structure that some attorneys apply when handling probate cases.

Some attorneys tell their clients that a flat fee structure is better value for their money. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. It may, in a few cases, offer good value for those with high-value estates. Yet, for those with less valuable estates, a flat fee structure can lead to overpaying. It’s always best to do your research when it comes to probate attorney fees.

Here at Thomas-MacDonald Law, we dedicate ourselves to ensuring you’re not charged too much for your probate attorney fees. Unlike some other law firms in the Florida Keys, we don’t charge flat rates. We will only charge you a fee based on the figures laid out in the Florida statutes. This means if the estate has a lower value, you will pay less. We know that losing a loved one is a difficult time for you. That’s why we won’t add to your burden with unreasonable probate lawyer fees. Contact us today to learn more.