Avoiding Probate Costs, but what about the creditors?

Avoiding Florida Probate Costs

Anyone who’s dealt with Probate in Florida knows how costly it can be.  There’s the filing fees (currently at $400.00).  There’s the publication fee (varies from county to county, $75-$300), and then there’s the attorney’s fees.
Some attorneys charge a flat fee for summary administration  (estate assets are less than $75,000 or death occurred over 2 years ago) but for a formal probate most attorneys charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the estate.  Some attorneys use a blend of hourly rates and a fee based on the percentage of the total assets.  Florida law allows attorneys to charge up to 3% of the amount of the assets.

Personal Representative Fee

Then there is the fee paid to the Personal Representative.  That can also be up to 3%.  Many times, a family member will refuse to be compensated for his or her duties as a Personal Representative.  But, not always.  I have encountered many situations where the designated Personal Representative is a family member and seizes this opportunity to receive a greater share of the inheritance.

Many of my clients come to me and ask for information about revocable living trusts to avoid probate. They have heard  tales of probate horror stories with the result that many Florida residents want these trusts.  What they don’t know is that  their designated trustees, who are also often the beneficiaries, (in most cases, their children) can be personally liable to the deceased’s creditors for up to 2 years if there are assets in the trust.
Fortunately, the summary probate with a publication of notice to the creditors can solve this dilemma.  There is always at least one asset left out of trust, and if not, items such as cash, personal property, car, can be used to open a Summary Administration.  The notice of Summary Administration is then published and filed with the Court.  Now, all claims not filed  withing 3 months of publication of the notice “shall forever be barred.”
So, by all means, consider a revocable living trust to avoid the costs of a full probate administration.  But, remember, you may have creditors when you die and they need to be paid.  Consult with an attorney to learn the best ways to accomplish all your Estate Planning goals.
Call for a consultation for Estate Planning and Probate.
To contact attorney Debra G. Simms, P.A. in Port Orange or New Smyrna Beach, FL please call 877.447.4667.

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