Depending on the case, probate may be a complex legal process with various steps involved. Ultimately, each case is different, but it is still possible to draw a timeline that generally applies to probate proceedings. In this article, we will explain the main stages of Florida probate process.
Florida Probate Process Timeline Essentials- Step-by-Step
Filing for Probate with the Court
The first step to initiate a probate proceeding is filing for probate with the court located in the county where the decedent’s passed away.
Accordingly, the family member or close friend who has possession of the last will provide it to the court within 10 days of notice of death. The last will must be attached to the petition for estate administration, by which the court will approve to start probate proceedings.
Issuing Letters of Administration
Once the paperwork has been filed with the local court, the judge will issue letters of administration within one to four weeks. This document will grant a person the power to execute the decedent’s estate as a personal representative (or executor).
Usually, the person appointed as personal representative is designated in the decedent’s last will.
Serving Notice of Administration
After being appointed, the personal representative must serve Notice of Administration to the heirs and beneficiaries who have an interest in the estate. This notice serves to notify beneficiaries and potential heirs that an estate administration.
Upon receipt of the notice, all interested parties have only a limited period (between 20 days and 3 months, depending on the subject) to object to the provisions in the last will, the personal representative, or other aspects of the estate administration.
Notifying the Decedent’s Creditors
During probate, the personal representative must work diligently to locate and notify the decedent’s creditors that the person has passed away and that his/her estate is undergoing probate.
The process of identifying and serving notice to creditors must occur according to the specific requirements provided by state law. Accordingly, the best approach is to work with an expert Florida Probate Lawyer to ensure no deadline is missed and no rule is unfulfilled.
Additionally, the personal representative must file a formal proof of the deceased’s death must with the probate court. In formal administration, it must be done within 3 months of the publication of notice to creditors, while summary administration requires it to be filed before the process’s entry.
If any creditors file claims against the estate within the legal period available, the personal representative must respond by either settling the debt(s) or objecting to unfeasible claims within 30 days.
Providing Inventory of the Assets Within the Estate
Another task of the personal representative is to do a detailed inventory of the estate’s assets, identifying and valuing each of them. Once the inventory is complete, the personal representative must file the document with the court and provide a copy to all beneficiaries to the estate.
Distributing the Assets and Closing the Estate
Once the estate is fully administered, the personal representative can proceed with the distribution of the remaining assets to the rightful beneficiaries. At this phase, each beneficiary must sign a document acknowledging they have been granted their fair share of the estate.
Lastly, after the assets are distributed, the personal representative must file a petition with the court to legally close the estate.
Are You Worried About Probate? – Immediately Contact Your Florida Probate Lawyer
This step-by-step overview shows only the main checkpoints involved in probate, as real-world situations tend to be much more complex. However, probate is not overwhelming when you count on the help of an expert attorney.