Probate Law

Probate Law

Probate Law Firm

Probate is the court supervised administration of the estate of the decedent. This is the process used to transfer the assets of the decedent to the beneficiaries. Probate is necessary if the decedent owned any assets in his or her sole name at the time of death. If an asset is jointly titled or has a beneficiary named directly on the asset, that asset is not subject to probate. A probate estate may either be “testate” or “intestate”.

What is a Probate Estate?

A probate estate is “testate” if the decedent has a valid Last Will and Testament at the time of death. The Last Will and Testament serves to direct the probate Judge as to who may serve as the personal representative of the estate and also the who are the beneficiaries. A probate estate is “intestate” if the decedent did not have a valid Last Will and Testament. In that case, the personal representative and beneficiaries are decided by the Florida statutes.

Additionally, a probate may either be a summary administration or a formal administration. A summary administration probate is an abbreviated version of the probate process. An estate may be eligible to complete a summary administration probate if the value of the estate does not exceed $75,000 or the decedent has been deceased for more than two years. If the estate does not qualify for a summary administration, a formal administration probate would be necessary.

How to Administer Probate

The formal administration probate requires the court to appoint a personal representative, more commonly known as an executor. The personal representative is responsible for handling the affairs of the estate. Specifically, the personal representative must complete the following duties:

  • Notify all interested parties.
  • Gather all of the probate assets of the decedent.
  • Prepare an inventory of the probate assets of the decedent.
  • Notify the creditors of the decedent of their opportunity to make a claim.
  • Satisfy the creditors’ claims.
  • Prepare an accounting and distribute the funds to the beneficiaries.
  • Request discharge of the fiduciary responsibilities.

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These proceeds are complex and time consuming and it is therefore advantageous to seek the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced probate attorney.

Contact Bell Law Firm for a free consultation.