As a Jacksonville, Florida Probate Lawyer, I see many examples of how poor planning results in increased probate costs. Recently, a client had to open a St. Johns County, Florida probate case so that the decedent’s 1% interest in a parcel of New York real property could be transferred. Even though we utilized the least costly probate procedure known as “summary administration,” the probate costs still were three (3) times greater than the value of the property being transferred to the probate estate.
Ordinarily, it would not have been cost effective to open a St. Johns County probate case at all, but because the real estate was owned by a total of 14 relatives, family pressures were brought to bear to make sure that everyone was able to agree and participate in the sale of the property. So, just obtaining this small inheritance for a St. Augustine, Florida, resident, resulted in major probate expense that could have been avoided if family members had better communicated their estate planning concerns. Large families particularly must develop a better plan to dispose of real property than to leave small percentages of ownership to multiple siblings, nieces and nephews. This is just one of the horror stories we see frequently as a Jacksonville, Florida Probate Lawyer.