The Probate Process
Estate Administration and Representation
Below are a sampling of some of the tasks and issues involved in administering an estate:
- Find and hire a competent attorney experienced in estate administration.
- Depositing a will with the clerk and having it admitted to probate by the judge
- Determining whether an administration is indeed necessary and if so, determining what type of administration is required to accomplish the task
- Determining the rightful heirs and beneficiaries
- Having a Personal Representative appointed and obtaining a bond if necessary
- Identifying the assets of the estate
- Identifying the debts and obligations of the estate and avoiding and objecting to claims if legally permitted
- Preparing and submitting final tax returns
- Distribution of estate assets
- Closing the estate and obtaining a final discharge for the Personal Representative
Depositing the Will
The Florida probate process typically starts by depositing the will (if there is one) with the clerk of the court in the county that has proper venue. The venue is usually determined by the last domicile (residence) of the decedent. If there is no will, the decedent is said to have died “intestate”, which means without a will. Florida intestate law will then determine who is entitled to inherit and how much they are entitled to inherit.
Types of Administration
- Formal Administration – generally non-exempt, non-homestead assets that exceed $75,000.
- Summary Administration – generally non-exempt, non-homestead assets that do not exceed $75,000 or the decedent has been dead two or more years.
- Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration – only exempt personal property or non-exempt personal property, the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness.
Appointment of Personal Representative
If necessary, the probate court will appoint a Personal Representative responsible for administering the estate. The Personal Representative is usually the person nominated in the will but it could be someone else. If there is no will, a family member or other interested person will usually apply for the job of Personal Representative. Only a judge can officially appoint a Personal Representative. Once appointed, a Personal Representative has fiduciary duties to properly administer the estate according to law.
How We Can Help
If you have been named Personal Representative in a will, or if there is no will and you desire or otherwise believe you should be appointed the Personal Representative, please call me to schedule an appointment.