When a court in Florida appoints a personal representative or executor, they are entitled to a fee. A personal representative is granted a fee because the role of a personal representative can be an arduous one. Not only can the probate process last 6-12 months (or longer), but it involves a lot of administrative work. That work may include documenting the decedent’s assets, searching for creditors and lien holders, communicating with the beneficiaries, paying the creditors and taxes, and finally distributing the estate assets to the heirs according to the probate court.
The Personal Representative’s Responsibilities
The personal representative’s chief task is to administer and finalize the decedent’s estate. To do that, they are required to perform the following tasks:
- Secure all the decedent’s assets, including finances and real estate properties
- Place an ad to find any and all creditors and let them know that the decedent has passed
- Communicate with the beneficiaries
- Safeguard all the estate assets
- Pay all creditors and lien holders FIRST
- Pay any taxes that are due on the estate
- Distribute the assets to the beneficiaries, according to the probate court
- Close the estate
The probate process usually takes anywhere from 6-12 months, and the personal representative may spend many hours on the project. The work requires paying attention to detail and tabulating all the documents and information in chronological order.
Due to the significant amount of work involved, Florida courts have set a schedule of fees for personal representatives. The Florida probate fees allow for a percentage of the estate’s assets to be paid for the duties and responsibilities undertaken, and, in some cases, perhaps extra fees for extraordinary tasks as well.
Florida personal representative fees are represented in the following schedule:
- 3% of the first million. For example, if the estate is worth $500,000, the representative is entitled to $15,000.
- 2.5% for an amount more than $1 million up to $5 million
- 2% for an amount between $5-$10 million
- 1.5% for amounts more than $10 million
The fee percentage is set on the actual value of the inventory and does not include the value of the protected homestead because the latter is not part of the probate estate. But suppose the personal representative is involved in selling the decedent’s homestead. In that case, they can ask the court for extraordinary fees, which are not always granted, for the more involved work efforts that selling a home will entail.
Personal Representative Extraordinary Fees
In some cases, a personal representative can petition for extraordinary fees if their work involves the following services:
- Selling any personal property or real estate belonging to the decedent
- Undertaking a lawsuit on behalf of the estate
- Resolving complex tax issues
- Continuing to maintain the decedent’s business
- Getting involved with protected homestead
The extraordinary fees for a personal representative are usually not paid at a flat rate but by the hour. If the personal representative needs assistance from accountants, lawyers, or a realtor, the probate court will allow the costs to be paid from the estate.
Can Adjustments Be Made to the Personal Representative Fees?
In some circumstances, Florida personal representative fees can be adjusted either upwards or downwards, depending on the following factors:
- The reliability, efficiency, and promptness of the personal representative
- The level of responsibility, potential liabilities, and amount of compensation to be paid to the beneficiaries
- The total value and nature of the assets
- The advantages or disadvantages that result from selecting the personal representative
- The complexity of the estate that is up for probate
- Besides administering the estate, the individual is offering tax planning for the estate and the beneficiaries
Anything that the personal representative does to improve the efficiency of the probate process is a plus and may result in higher compensation. Florida probate fees costs are in the control of the probate judge.
Can There Be Two Paid Personal Representatives?
Yes, in Florida, the probate court permits two personal representatives who may be paid the full commission, but only if the state is worth at least $100,000. If the estate is valued at less than $100,000, the personal representative commission is equally split between the two individuals.
If you have been selected to be a personal representative and do not know much about the probate process, the best advice is to seek assistance from a probate lawyer who can help guide you. It is always wise to seek the advice of a knowledgeable Florida probate lawyer. Call Elder Law today.