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Two States Where Probate Gets Pricey: California and Florida

If you live in California or Florida, consider an estate plan that avoids probate. Florida probate rules dictate that every personal representative of the deceased (such as the executor or administrator) “shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida,” unless that personal representative is the sole beneficiary of the will. So much for your executor doing it herself or trying to avoid costs! Moreover, both states’ laws authorize—and attorneys often adhere to—a fee schedule based on a percentage of the estate. This results in high fees in many cases where not much legal work is necessary. As for California, court fees were increased in 2003.

From “AARP Crash Course in Estate Planning: The Essential Guide to Wills, Trusts and Your Personal Legacy,” by Michael T. Palermo, JD, CFP, 2005, pp. 92-93