Probate is a court-supervised proceeding in which a court will verify the validity of the decedent’s will and oversee the execution of the estate subject to probate.
Depending on several factors, including the size of the decedent’s estate, the date of death, and the rise of legal disputes during the process, probate may take months (or even years) to complete.
Therefore, it is crucial to rely on a set of good practices and strategies to expedite the process and avoid lengthy probate. Keep reading to find out how to speed up probate in Florida.
How to Speed Up Probate in Florida – Proven Methods Only
Several factors may affect how lengthy or costly probate might be, including:
- Having an invalid will (or not having a will at all)
- The existence of multiple wills
- Designating an ineligible person to serve as a personal representative
- Estates with an exaggerated number of beneficiaries
- Estates comprised of complex (or unusual) assets
- When all the decedent’s beneficiaries live out of state or abroad
- When the decedent died with outstanding debt(s)
- Estates with assets spread in various states and/or abroad
- Cases involving pending tax issues
- Legal disputes between beneficiaries
Ideally, the best approach is to work with a well-versed estate planning attorney to tailor strategies to mitigate the effects of probate, or even avoid the process altogether.
Having a Properly Executed Last Will
Florida Statutes §732.502 provides a detailed list of the execution requirements that determine the validity of wills within state jurisdiction. If a will is not properly executed under the law, the decedent’s estate will be executed according to Florida intestacy laws.
The term “intestacy” refers to a situation in which someone died without a will. Hence, the court might appoint a personal representative to execute the intestate estate and distribute the decedent’s assets according to statutory provisions.
Working with an expert attorney to properly execute a will is the best way to avoid intestacy, as well as other inconvenient situations that may affect the length of probate (e.g., probate litigation).
Signing a Self-Proving Affidavit
One of the purposes of submitting a will to the court upon the testator’s death is to determine whether the document is executed.
With no self-proving affidavit, the will must go through the formalities required in the authentication process, requiring the original witnesses to be located to attest to the document’s validity.
Filing for Summary Administration
In short, summary administration is an expedited version of probate in Florida. If the total value of the decedent’s estate is less than $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for longer than two years, it is possible to file for summary administration.
This version of probate generally takes up to six months to complete, depending on the case’s circumstances. If there are no issues involved, it is possible to complete the whole process in up to six weeks.
Structuring a Solid Estate Plan
Having a well-thought-out estate plan in place permits you not only to expedite probate but also to protect your legacy and ensure seamless distribution of your assets to your loved ones upon death.
In some cases, it is possible to entirely avoid probate by designating beneficiaries to specific assets, setting up transfer-on-death (TOD) or payable-on-death (POD) accounts, using Lady Bird deeds, or transferring the title of property to a trust.