Losing a loved one is never easy. It is even harder when you have the weighty responsibility of winding down their estate through probate. With their legacy in your hands, how and where do you even begin?
Fortunately, you do not have to go it alone: As a court-supervised process, Florida Probate is an inherently legal matter that is best handled with a qualified Probate Lawyer at your side. Jurado & Associates, P.A. has the experienced and knowledgeable team you need to navigate this process efficiently.
The Basics of Florida Probate
In the simplest terms, probate is the process by which the assets of a deceased person (the decedent) are distributed in accordance with their Last Will and Testament or Florida intestate rules (for when there is no valid or existing Will). As the term “probate” derives from the Latin verb for “examining” or “proving,” its purpose to prove the existence of a valid Will to guide the process of winding down the estate.
Florida Probate law requires locating, identifying, cataloging, and gathering the decedent’s assets so they can be distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries. Among the assets that come under the process are:
- Financial accounts in the decedent’s name
- Annuities, retirement accounts, or life insurance policies payable to the decedent’s estate
- Non-homestead real estate solely in the decedent’s name or the name of the decedent and another as co-tenants
Probate also requires that unpaid debts are squared away, taxes are paid, and the remaining assets are divided fairly and equitably. The process is completed when all assets are accounted for and distributed.
Depending on the on the size of the estate, how long ago the decedent passed away, and various other factors, there are several means by which this can be accomplished. However, the most common form of property distribution is “Formal Administration,” which can be understood as “regular probate.”
Formal Administration begins when a Will is filed with the probate court to be validated. Afterward, the person named in the Will as its “executor” is appointed the decedent’s personal representative through issuance of “Letters of Administration” by the probate court. If the Will is found to be invalid, or does not exist, the court will appoint someone to serve this role, usually (though not always) the next of kin.
As personal representative, you will be responsible for gathering, inventorying, and accounting for all assets, and for arranging the payment of all taxes and debts. You will then file a final accounting of the estate showing the assets and how they will be distributed to heirs and other beneficiaries. Once all the assets have been distributed and all debts and taxes are cleared, you must present receipts and records to the court and request that the estate be closed. The court will issue an order closing the estate and relieving you of any further responsibilities.
Hiring a Trusted Probate Lawyer
Whether you have been appointed by the court or entrusted by the decedent, your role as personal representative will always be a vital and demanding one. Navigating the probate process can be complicated and daunting even for the smallest estates, as it requires a lot of paperwork, special forms, and compliance with legal standards. It can be even more complex if other variables come into play, such as the Will being, contested or ruled invalid by the court, or heirs dispute the distribution of assets.
Regardless of the circumstances, an experienced Probate Lawyer from Jurado & Associates will be there to steer you through. Whether you need legal guidance, document preparation, or representation against a third-party claim, our probate attorneys will be attentive and vigilant to all your probate needs.
Our probate attorneys know full-well the importance of fulfilling your duties as personal representative. That is why we make it a point to understand every facet of both the estate and the client we serve. Working with our firm means personalized service, meticulous attention to detail, zealous representation, and a long-term partnership through every stage of the probate process.