Probate is like football because it's great in Georgia, but in Florida it's absolutely the worst lowdown horrible miserable thing in the world.
It's also not great in other states.
It's relatively cheap to probate a will in Georgia. Here, you may expect to pay about $1,000 or sometimes even less to probate a simple will without a contest. The fees and costs should be paid from the estate's assets.
The probate courts in Georgia are also relatively quick to process petitions and other filings. In Gwinnett County, it usually takes about three weeks between the time the nominated executor files a completed petition and takes the oath and the time that executor is formally appointed. In Walton County, the executor receives her letters testamentary on the same day. Fulton and DeKalb Counties are not as quick because of the sheer volume of filings, but they still do not take more than six or eight weeks.
In Florida, on the other hand, you may expect to wait several months and pay multiple thousands of dollars to navigate through probate court.
You may have heard that Florida has no state income tax. It is our experience that the state government makes up for any deficiencies in its budget with probate fees and tolls. We have heard a personal story from one of our referral sources that seems to confirm this hypothesis. In an estate with which our source was involved, the executor paid more than $100,000 in court fees and legal fees to transfer one bank account out of the decedent's estate.
If you would like to prepare to move to Florida or any other state, we recommend that you attempt to avoid probate and investigate the possibility of using a revocable living trust. You may hold Florida-based assets in a trust based in Georgia, and thereby take advantage of all of the favorable IRS laws and regulations that apply to estates while avoiding all of the unpleasantness that comes with Floridian probate courts.
We are more than happy to discuss the probate process, trusts, or the supremacy of Georgia football over Florida football anytime. Please address your estate-related questions to Ashley Scarpetta or Nathan Powell.