Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
What are the typical fees an estate lawyer will charge a personal representative for opening probate, etc. and preparing federal and state taxes (in the state of FL)?
Fees vary depending on the size of the estate and the amount of work required. Usually an accountanr will be retained for the tax returns. Minimum attorney fee is around 2500. For the first 100,000 in value the fee will usually be around 5% and between 1 and 4% of all over the 100,000.Here is the exact statute
Compensation for ordinary services of attorneys in formal estate administration is presumed to be reasonable if based on the compensable value of the estate, which is the inventory value of the probate estate assets and the income earned by the estate during the administration as provided in the following schedule:
Are fees calculated on the size of the estate, then? Independent of, say, actual hours spent for the client? Or does the statute set a limit or guideline for billable hours? For example, for a $2.2M estate should I expect a bill of $71,000 (including $11,000 for 706 filing fee) regardless of the hours spent?
The percentages in the statute are presumed to be reasonable. The attorney is free to charge less or to charge more if he can still show that the charges are "reasonable" based on the amount of work.
The attorney must show that the charges are reasonable with an itemized bill, for example?
That is correct. You should always receive an itemized bill.
My father did not receive an itemized bill. Rather, the attorney simply charged the "reasonable fee" ($71K) Because of friendship outside the office they discounted that fee to %40K, according to the letter he received. But there was nothing itemized regarding his time spent nor that of his assistants, nor what they did except general statements like "estate planning work", which is in the body of the letter. If I have additional questions should my next step be to contact the FL bar regarding my rights?