What You Need to Know About Florida Probate
After a loved one dies in Florida, the estate may have to go through a process called probate. There are different laws depending on whether the person left a valid will. If the person left a valid will, then he or she died testate. If there was no will then he or she died intestate. Within the probate process, there are many rules and regulations. You may go through the summary process, if the estate qualifies, or otherwise go through the formal Florida probate process.
Navigating through the probate process alone can be complex and stressful, but an experienced probate attorney can guide you and help make the process easier. An attorney can ensure creditors are paid, that deadlines are met or extensions are filed, request disbursement of the estate to appropriate beneficiaries, and conclude with a request to relieve the executor of their responsibilities closing the case. If you or a loved one is seeking an attorney to assist with probate matters, contact our office today be calling 850-432-7705 or completing our online form here to schedule a free consultation with Stan Peeler.
The summary administration process is governed by Section 735.201-735.2063, Florida Statutes. The executor (or a person who is inheriting property from the estate) can file a petition for summary administration. This is usually done for smaller estates valued at less than $75,000.
If there is a surviving spouse, he or she must sign and verify the petition. Florida statutes dictate that any beneficiary who does not sign the petition must be served a notice that you have filed the petition.
The executor will need to list the deceased person's assets, the value and beneficiaries.
If the court determines that the estate qualifies for summary administration, then the court will issue an order. This order will allow the executor to have access to the decedent's bank accounts. It will also allow the executor to distribute the decedent's property.
The formal administration process is governed by Sections 733.101-733.903, and Sections 732.101-732.901, Florida Statutes. Formal administration of an estate must generally occur if the estate value exceeds $75,000. There are strict deadlines for Notices to all potential beneficiaries and creditors of the estate. A Notice to Creditors must be published in the local newspaper for a specified period of time in the formal probate process.
A detailed inventory of assets of the estate must be prepared with line item values for each asset included in the inventory. Exempt properties as well as appropriate family allowances are also considerations in the process, among others that have to be considered and accounted for.
In the end, after much effort, a final accounting is filed with the Court, as is a plan of distribution of the estate, payment of creditors, and a request for discharge of the Personal Representative and closing of the estate process.