Choosing Between a Will and a Trust in Florida

Feb 20, 2024 | Wills, Trusts & Estates

In Florida, assets passing under a Will must undergo probate.

A Florida Probate is a legal process where a deceased individual’s assets are managed by the courts according to the terms of a valid Will (known as testate probate) or, in the absence of a Will, according to the state’s default rules (intestate probate).

What’s the Cost of Filing a Florida Probate Case?

Aside from the emotional strain probate can inflict during a period of mourning, it can also be financially burdensome. Probate costs vary by state and county, with Florida’s court fees for opening probate ranging from $241 to over $400, depending on factors such as asset type, value, and the probate type.

For instance, in St. Johns, Clay, or Nassau County, the filing fee for formal administration probate is $400, while Duval County charges $401.

What about Legal Fees for a Florida Probate Case?

Attorneys assisting the Personal Representative are entitled to fees per Florida Statutes. These fees could amount to as much as 3% of assets under Section 733.617, meaning $1,000,000 subject to probate could incur fees of up to $60,000.

How Long Does a Florida Probate Case Take?

One often overlooked downside of probate in Florida is its duration. Depending on judicial caseloads, the process from start to finish can last 6 months to a year or longer. Unlike probate, a Trust in Florida doesn’t entail the expenses and delays associated with distributing assets.

These drawbacks of probate in Florida underscore why Trust planning is an attractive alternative to relying solely on a Will. Assets passing under a Trust bypass probate and may enjoy greater protection from creditors than individually owned assets.

Is a Florida Probate Case Private?

Trust planning offers clients the benefit of anonymity. Unlike probate records, a trust’s inventory isn’t public, and property owned by a trust lists the trustee’s name on the property appraiser’s website. Additionally, beneficiary interests remain private unless ordered otherwise by a court.

Does a Florida Probate Case Trigger Property Reassessment?

Many clients worry that transferring property to a trust could trigger adverse consequences such as property value reassessment, loss of “Save Our Homes” tax cap, or homestead protection forfeiture. However, most trust transfers do not carry these risks.

Need help planning your estate? Contact The Young Law Firm to schedule a consultation today.