Probate court is something most people don’t have to go through very often, which can leave them confused and with lots of questions. The following are among the most common questions we receive about the probate process in Florida, along with our answers.
What is Probate of an Estate?
Probate is a type of court that deals with the collection, valuation, and distribution of assets after someone has died and with the guardianship of incapacitated persons. For inheritance purposes, it is commonly referred to as the probate of an estate. Once all the assets of an estate are collected and their value determined, those assets will be used to resolve all debts of the estate and distribute the remainder. This is where any debts and final taxes are paid, and the remaining assets are distributed according to the deceased’s Will.
What if there isn’t a Will?
If there is no Will in place, all assets (after taxes and debts have been paid) will be distributed by a process known as intestate succession. The process in Florida can be seen here, in the Florida Statutes. This will identify which family members will receive what based typically on the closeness of the familial relationship.
What’s the difference between Formal and Summary Administration?
In Florida, there are two different types of probate administrations. The formal administration option is the more common one. In this case, a personal representative, or executor, of the estate is appointed. They will be the person responsible for finding assets, getting their value, and distributing them. Any questions that aren’t answered by a Will are determined by the personal representative.
A summary administration is a shorter version of the probate process and is only used when the total value of assets (not including a homestead real property) is under $75,000, or when it has been more than two years since the death of the person in question.
How much will Probate cost?
The exact expenses related to the probate process will vary greatly based on the size and complexity of the case. It can range from several hundred dollars up to thousands in some situations.
How long does the Probate process take?
Having an estate go through probate can take anywhere from several months to several years. In most cases in Miami-Dade and Broward, it should take between 9-18 months for the estate to complete this process.
Is an attorney necessary for Probate?
It is typically best if you have an attorney there to represent your interests through probate court. The nice thing about probate is when everything goes smoothly, the fees are more manageable. Having proper estate planning in place can assist with the process going forward smoothly. When there are conflicts such as a Will or trust contest, however, it is necessary to have an attorney there to help you get what you deserve. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.