Working With a Sarasota Probate Attorney: How to Deal with Probate and What You Can Do to Avoid It
A Sarasota probate attorney at Lehn Law can guide you through the Florida probate process compassionately and make sure your family is taken care of.
What Can a Sarasota Probate Lawyer Do for You?
Losing a loved one can be stressful enough even without having to take care of their affairs and assets. Although not all estates have to go through probate, in cases when an individual died without a will or trust, or if she or he had assets in their name only, then all assets have to pass through probate court.
Probate is a process supervised by the court that includes distribution of the deceased person’s assets and estate, including personal belongings, real estate properties, trusts to his or her beneficiaries, as well as paying debts the deceased’s estate may have had.
Probate is nothing more than a court process through which assets are collected, debts are paid, and everything is relatively simple. However, in some cases, probate matters may require going through a several-years-long court battle because of inheritance disputes.
Wills and trusts are types of estate planning documents that preserve the wishes of the decedent and, at the same time, prevent family members or other heirs from fighting over the estate assets. Probate administrators as well as trust administrators have certain duties to act in the best interest of the estate or trust beneficiaries. If that is not the case, their actions can be challenged in probate or trust litigation with the help of an estate planning attorney.
Probate includes giving effect to the terms of a will, if the decedent had a will. It is necessary if the decedent did not have a will to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to the beneficiaries. Probate, otherwise called estate administration, is also necessary to complete the decedent’s financial affairs and pay the decedent’s creditors.
Who Handles Estate Administration?
A personal representative or the administrator of the estate is usually the one who handles probate administration. She or he may have many duties, and mistakes can be expensive in terms of the assets as well as the time it takes. In addition, the administrator of the estate is most often a surviving spouse or a relative without relevant experience in probate administration.
However, in the State of Florida, it’s legally required to have a Probate Litigation Attorney represent you during a probate hearing, except in a few rare circumstances.
If your loved one has died, and you are faced with a probate administration process in Sarasota FL, make sure you hire reputable Sarasota estate planning and probate lawyers who have years of experience handling these legal matters.
The Lehn Law, P.A. law firm has a narrow focus on navigating the legal issues people face every day, including estate planning, probate, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and elder law matters. You can rely on our elder law attorney or estate planning attorney to handle your estate planning documents, deal with estate litigation, and make sure everything is in legal compliance. Our firm is dedicated to helping Sarasota families and you can rest assured that your loved ones, your property, and your rights will be protected.
Probate Attorney Sarasota FL Gives an Overview of the Probate Process
Summary Administration and Formal Administration are two types of probate under Florida law. If the decedent’s estate and assets going through probate are valued at $75,000 or less, then Summary Administration may be available. It’s an expedited procedure that can also be used in case it involves a death that occurred over two years ago (such as when someone is missing and declared dead recently).
A Petition for Summary Administration must be filed and signed by estate beneficiaries and/or a surviving spouse to initiate the process.
On the other hand, Formal Administration is the standard form of probate. It starts when the deceased’s will, along with other necessary documents, are handed to the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Sarasota County, where the decedent had lived at the time of death. It is also necessary to file a petition to open a probate case and pay a fee.
Then, the personal representative or another interested person asks to be appointed. Also, heirs named in the estate and other interested parties have to be formally notified in order to give them a chance to raise any formal objection. Formal notice is mandatory in Florida. The whole process takes at least six months, or over a year for more complicated estates.
In addition, the personal representative also has to take care of contacting creditors and paying the estate’s debts and bills, communicating with the probate court, and filing tax returns. Any probate disputes such as wills/trusts challenges and other disputes lead to probate litigation.
Lehn Law can assist clients with formal administration, summary administration, and ancillary administration of probate assets. Our attorneys can guide you through the probate process with care and compassion and provide you with the information you need to make important decisions.
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Sarasota Florida Cost?
According to Florida Probate Law, Section 733.6171, “Attorneys for personal representatives shall be entitled to reasonable compensation payable from the estate assets without court order”.
Since determining reasonable compensation is subjective, the law suggested what would be considered “reasonable compensation” based on the value of the estate.
For example, if an estate is valued at $40,000 or less, the reasonable compensation would be $1,500. For estates valued at more than $40,000 but less than $70,000, the compensation would include an additional $750. If the estate is valued at more than $70,000 but less than $100,000, reasonable attorneys’ fees would be $3,000.
For Sarasota, Florida estates valued between $100,000 and $900,000, compensation would be 3% of the value of the estate. As the value of the estate goes up, the percentage of the attorney’s fees that are considered reasonable goes down. So, if the estate is valued above $1 million and not exceeding $3 million the compensation is 2.5%, and if it’s valued above $3 million and not exceeding $5 million the compensation is 2%.
Further, if the estate is valued above $5 million and not exceeding $10 million, the reasonable attorneys’ fees are 1.5% of the estate’s value, and if it’s valued above $10 million, the fees are 1%.
In addition to the fees, probate lawyers may also get additional compensation for other services, including involvement in will disputes, elective share proceedings, and any other proceeding or probate litigation.
Led by trusted attorney Joseph W. Lehn, the team at Lehn Law will work alongside you if you face elder law problems or handle estate planning needs and probate matters.
Sarasota County Probate Attorney: How Can Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Help?
In case an individual in Sarasota, Florida, dies without a valid will, his or her estate is declared “intestate”. That means the State of Florida has a specific process to determine who will be the heirs of that estate.
If you want to avoid that, and even avoid probate administration of the estate, you can make a living trust. That way, an asset in the trust will be controlled by the terms of that trust. Real estate investments, bank accounts, and any other possessions have to be properly transferred to the trust so that after your death, the trustee can transfer them to the trust beneficiaries without involving the probate court.
That being said, proper estate planning can also spare your family from unnecessary expenses and delays. A properly drafted and executed Power of Attorney, Health Care Surrogate, and Living Will are just some of the components of a good estate plan and estate planning attorneys can help you with that.
It’s never too early to start the estate planning process and make a comprehensive estate plan. Don’t let the State of Florida decide who will inherit everything you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Ensure your family is taken care of by contacting an estate planning lawyer Sarasota, Florida at Lehn Law. Our estate planning attorneys will make sure your wishes are fulfilled and your family is taken care of.
Reach Out to the Sarasota Probate Attorneys at Lehn Law for a Free Consultation
Probate is also not necessary if the deceased didn’t leave any properties or if everything he or she had left is worth less than the amount of the expenses. It is called Disposition without Administration and it means that hearing is infeasible from a monetary perspective.
In an ideal case, the decedent has written a will, there is enough money to pay the estate’s expenses, and all heirs agree with the terms of the will. However, that is rarely the case. The validity of the will or the way it was executed is often contested. A trust can also be challenged in court for different reasons. All these disputes lead to litigation in court, where you can benefit even more from having an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer by your side.
Let Attorney Lehn of Lehn Law, P.A. guide you through the legal issues you may face. Our practice areas include everything from wills, trusts, and probate to bankruptcy and foreclosure. In short, we are focused on helping Sarasota, Florida families navigate life’s hurdles and prepare for the future.
Contact us and schedule a free consultation to get a case evaluation or legal advice. We are here to provide compassionate and competent legal help and guidance no matter what life has thrown your way.