What is the process for filing a probate?
The first step is to meet with an attorney to determine if a probate needs to be filed and if so, what type of probate. In order for the attorney to have a complete picture of the decedent's estate, it is important to come to the appointment with all of the relevant information, which is contained in our Estate Questionnaire.
A Petition for Summary Administration can be filed if the value of the entire estate (less exempt property) does not exceed $75,000.00 or if the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years. Otherwise, a Formal Administration is generally needed.
Depending on what type of probate is needed, the attorney can walk you through the process and give you an approximate timeline during the consultation.
What happens if the decedent did not have a will?
The Florida Statutes state how assets are to be distributed if the decedent died intestate (without a will).
Generally, if the decedent was married, the assets pass to the spouse. If the decedent was not married or is widowed, then the assets pass to the children. If there are no children, then the assets pass to the parents, then siblings, etc. This distribution can change if there was a spouse but also children from a prior relationship, so it is important to discuss with the attorney in order to determine how the assets would be distributed.
I am holding the original will of someone who died. What should I do with it?
Within ten days after death, the original will should be deposited with the Clerk of Court in the county there the decedent was living on the day she or he died.
What does it mean to be a Personal Representative? What do I have to do?
The first step is to determine if the decedent left a will. If so, secure the original will and deposit it with the Clerk of Court within ten days or contact a probate attorney to discuss. As Personal Representative, you will be responsible for inventorying all of the decedent's assets and identifying creditors. You may need to open a bank account and pay out creditors and beneficiaries from any funds collected.
A Personal Representative has a great deal of responsibility and will work closely with the probate attorney to ensure the decedent's final wishes are carried out. It is important to hire an experienced probate attorney that can assist you with every step of the process.