We offer legal assistance to personal representatives of a deceased to probate their will in Florida. We understand the ups and downs of Florida probate and so know the right steps to take to ensure that probate goes on smoothly and the estate is closed within the shortest possible time. Our expert advice to the executor is such that throws them on the right path. The responsibility upon the executor is rarely ever an easy one, and Any slight error can put him on the wrong side of the law with the hands of the family to his throat, but we help to avoid this by offering guidance on what should be done at each given time during probate.
Minimizing or avoiding probate
We also offer estate planning services to Floridians who wish to pass assets to loved ones outside probate or through a simplified one. There are instruments well-known to us by which this goal can be achieved. Simply put a call through to our law office in Florida to speak with a probate lawyer today.
Important things to know about Florida probate
What is Probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process by which the will of a deceased is validated and admitted by the probate court, estate debts, bills and creditors are settled, and then the assets distributed according to the dictates of the will.
Probate is carried out in a probate court in the same state where the decedent owned assets and/or domiciled.
What if the will is invalid or there is no will?
In the absence of a valid will, the estate of the decedent will be disposed according to the dictates of Florida intestacy law. This law mandates that the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate in the absence of a descendant that is not also the descendant of the surviving spouse. If there is/are, they share the estate with the surviving spouse by law.
Must probate be done?
The execution of probate is necessitated by the manner in which the assets are owned.
Probate must be done for assets that are held in the decedent’s name only. Assets like cars, bank accounts, real estate, businesses held in the decedent’s name must pass through probate before they can be inherited in Florida. The following assets will pass outside probate in Florida:
- Assets held in a trust
- Assets jointly held
- Assets having designated recipients e.g. POD accounts, IRA, life insurance proceeds.
What is the duration and cost of probate?
The duration and cost of probate is determined by the value and complexity of the assets being probated. Less value means a less expensive and shorter probate, and this is why you should hire a probate lawyer to help plan for probate minimization. There is no fixed duration but probate in Florida can last for 9 months up to years depending on the complexity. Having an experienced probate lawyer working with you always helps to speed things up.
When does probate begin?
Probate must be initiated by the executor at least 10 days after the death of the testator. This is done by filing the will alongside the death certificate to the probate court. It is important to get guidance from a probate lawyer in order to know how to do this rightly. In the absence of a will and you wish to file a petition to be named as the personal representative, it is also important seeking legal guidance from a probate lawyer.
What are the duties of the personal representative?
The personal representative (known as an executor in the presence of a will, or an estate administrator in the absence of a will) has the following responsibilities:
- Notifying the family and all interested parties including the decedent’s creditors of the commencement of probate
- Valuating and appraising the estate (appraisal is not always necessary)
- Filing tax returns
- Paying funeral expenses, estate debts and tax from the estate purse
- Keeping record of all expenses
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries after all expenses have been settled.
How does a probate lawyer help during probate?
All the above responsibilities of the executor must be done accurately and transparently as any mistake can lead to criminal accusations. The probate lawyer when hired ensures that each duty is carried out in utmost perfection and diligence. He ensures that tax return forms are filed on time, and that only legitimate creditors are paid. There is a lot of paperwork required during probate and the attorney is highly experienced in such matters. Disgruntled parties may also wish to litigate the estate or file for will contests. The lawyer working with the executor helps to ensure that all conflicts are resolved quickly without escalation.
So do you wish to get professional legal assistance in probating that estate? Why not give us a call today?