It is never easy to lose a loved one, especially if have been designated the personal representative of their estate. While you deal with the repercussions of their death, you must also navigate the complex Florida Probate Process, a court-supervised procedure for distributing their assets and winding down their estate in accordance with their Last Will and Testament and Florida law.
While no two probate cases are the same, the procedure is almost always a long, complicated, and costly one. Fortunately, there is no need to endure these challenges alone: An experienced Florida Probate Attorney from Jurado & Associates, P.A. can help you at every step of the process to better your chances of a relatively smoother and faster process that fulfills your loved one’s legacy.
The Florida Probate Process: The Basics
Whenever someone dies leaving behind assets in Florida, these assets—collectively known as their “estate”—must generally go through probate, a legal proceeding in which the assets of a deceased person (the decedent) are distributed in accordance with either their Last Will and Testament or Florida intestate rules (for when there is no valid Will).
The term “probate” comes from the Latin verb for “proving” or “examining,” which reflects its central purposes of proving the existence of a valid Will to guide the process of winding down the estate. Hence the process begins with the filing of the decedent’s Will with the probate court so that it can be validated as authentic and legally valid.
Upon the court’s approval, it will issue “Letters of Administration” that appoint the person named in the Will as its “executor” to serve as “personal representative” of the estate. If there is no Will, or the existing Will is found to be invalid under Florida law, the court will usually appointment the decedent’s eligible next of kin to serve the role.
The personal representative is responsible identifying and gathering all assets of the estate so they can be distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries. These assets can include financial accounts in the decedent’s name; annuities, retirement accounts, or life insurance policies payable to the decedent’s estate; and non-homestead real estate titled solely in the decedent’s name (or with another co-tenants)
Not only must the personal representative provide a clear catalog of the assets, but they must also notify and identify any potential creditors or claimants as well as ensure all taxes paid. A final accounting of the estate must be filed showing the assets and how they will be distributed to creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries. Once all the assets have been distributed and all debts and taxes are cleared, the personal representative must provide receipts and records to the court and request that the estate be closed by a final court order.
The Florida Probate Process is More Than Meets the Eye
Depending on the on the size of the estate, how long ago the decedent passed away, and various other factors, the Florida Probate Process is administered in several different ways. The common type is “Formal Administration,” which is essentially “regular probate” and typically last six months to a year depending on the circumstances. “Summary Administration” is a comparatively faster proceeding designed for relatively smaller estates and for cases where the decedent passed away over two years before the probate petition was filed. “Ancillary Administration” describes probate proceedings for decedents who were not residents of Florida but left behind Florida-based assets.
Regardless of what form it takes, the Florida Probate Process is almost always a fairly complicated one, as it requires complying with the Florida Probate Code. The personal representative must file certain forms, locate and provide specific documents and evidence, and address any disputes that may arise among and between the heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, or even third-party claimants.
Hence, while a lawyer is not mandatory for probate proceedings, it is all but required that you enlist the expertise of a Florida Probate Attorney who specialize in virtually all probate matters in the state.
Hire a Trusted Florida Probate Attorney from Jurado & Associates
Our experienced Florida Probate Attorneys can provide the legal services needed to better your chances of a quicker and easier probate process. From document preparation to address disputes, our probate attorneys will be by your side throughout the probate process to help see you to the end. While every probate case is different, you can be assured of the same personalized service, meticulous attention to detail, zealous representation, and a long-term partnership through every stage of the probate process.
Our firm even offers Estate Planning services to those seeking to avoid probate or who are unsure about how it will affect their estate or their loved ones. To learn more about we can offer, call (305) 921-0976 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.