Most cases involving the estate of someone who died in Florida will likely require probate. In essence, the concept of probate refers to a court-supervised process in which the decedent’s estate will be administered and distributed under state law provisions.
If the decedent died without a last will, the estate will be administered as provided by Florida intestacy laws. Nonetheless, if the decedent passed away with last will, the document must be filed with the probate court.
Filing for Probate in Florida – Why is the Last Will Necessary?
First, the last will is crucial to outline what happens with someone’s estate after he/she dies. When a person dies without a last will, the subsequent court process can get mind-boggling for the deceased person’s loved ones.
As there is no will in place, the court has to appoint an administrator to administer the intestate estate – which can be a time-demanding, expensive and worst of all, belligerent experience for the decedent’s family members.
Ideally, no one should overlook the proper structuring of a last will and testament. Thus, no probate proceeding may be admitted without a will, as the document is fundamental to:
- Determine who will manage the decedent’s estate
- Decide who receives part of the decedent’s assets and property (and who does not)
- Choose who will take care of minor children (if any) through guardianship
- Name a beneficiary for a pet, leaving it to a trusted person
- Leave instructions for specific assets (e.g., stocks, company’s shares, digital assets)
- Prevent potential family disputes
- Provide detailed funeral instructions
Do Wills Have to Be Filed with the Court in Florida? – The Verdict
In Florida, all original last will must be submitted to probate court. Therefore, the individual who controls the decedent’s original will must deposit the document within ten days after receipt of information that the testator (person who wrote the will) has passed away.
As provided by Florida Statutes §732.901 (1), the person in control of the will in hand must “deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead.”
The same person must “supply the testator’s date of death or the last four digits of the testator’s social security number to the clerk upon deposit.” Florida Statutes §732.901 (2) add that “upon petition and notice, the custodian of any will may be compelled to produce and deposit the will.”
Accordingly, “all costs, damages, and a reasonable attorney’s fee shall be adjudged to petitioner against the delinquent custodian if the court finds that the custodian had no just or reasonable cause for failing to deposit the will.”
Once the custodian of the will submits the document to the court, the “original will submitted to the clerk with a petition or other pleading is deemed to have been deposited with the clerk” as provided by Fla. Stat. §732.901 (3).
As it is plain to see, filing for probate is not as simple as it may seem. Hence, it is crucial to seek guidance with an expert legal counselor to clarify any complex terms and ensure a smooth experience during probate.
Probate Does Need to Be Overwhelming – Immediately Contact Your Florida Probate Lawyer
There are many considerations when determining if you should probate a last will in Florida. Therefore, waste no time with uncertainty – call Attorneys Romy B. Jurado and Diana L. Collazos at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.