St. Petersburg/Sarasota Probate Lawyer
Tampa and St. Petersburg are neighboring cities, but definitely not twins. While Tampa (Hillsborough County) has a median population age of 36 years, meaning there are as many residents under age 36 as there are over, a short drive over Tampa Bay brings one to a stretch of “golden year” cities and counties – St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton, Sarasota, Port Charlotte. The median age for the counties here is near, or over, age 50. That means a lot of probate estates.
How expensive probate is, and how difficult it can be, varies tremendously county by county. The clerks of court are elected officials, which means some have better management skills than others. In addition, different judges have different rules. Some take a common sense approach, recognizing that the official “recommended” probate forms are just suggestions, and need not be followed exactly. Other judges view them as absolute requirements even if a specific part of a form makes no sense under the facts. Result: a real challenge when clients ask us the two basic questions of probate: how long will this take, and what will it cost? To answer those we need to know not only the county in which probate must be filed, but also what judge is likely to be assigned, and what that means for us.
Fortunately, most (not all) of the clerks and judges from St. Petersburg to Port Charlotte are consistent and predictable, so we can answer those two basic questions. This also means that in many cases we can offer a flat fee because we know how much work will be involved, based on past cases. However, we never base our fees based on the size of the estate. Although Florida law allows it, that approach follows no logic since the size of the estate often has no effect on the legal work required to administer it.