Do you need professional help with a probate case? Then we can help you. At Jurado & Associates, P.A we have worked in hundreds of probate cases that required summary, formal or ancillary administration. Therefore, we have the experience you need, and with our results-driven approach to probate cases, you can expect to obtain the best results. Give us a call at (305) 921-0976 to receive expert guidance on probate law in Florida to win your case!
We have also built this practical guide to explain to you how Florida probate law works, in order to bring you a proper overview of the process and explain how we can help you to win your case.
#1 – Discover the Glossary of Probate Law in Florida
Many people have a hard time when they face a probate situation due to the legal terms and complex jargon involved in the process. Hence, it is crucial to understand the most common probate-related terms before filing the paperwork in court. Our lawyers at Jurado & Associates, P.A, will help you to navigate through the entire probate process, by translating complex terms into simple words, in order to keep you fully informed and aware of what we are doing with your case.
As the term itself suggests, this term refers to a court with competence in a jurisdiction to judge matters of probate and the administration of estates.
This term refers to the legal distribution of the decedent’s assets in probate court after the owner of the estate subject to probate passes away.
Personal Representative / Executor
A personal representative is a person or entity legally appointed to execute the decedent’s estate and oversee the distribution of assets once probate proceedings are complete.
Similarly, the term “executor” refers to someone appointed by the decedent in the last will or designated by the court to administer the decedent’s estate. Ultimately, both terms are often used interchangeably.
Beneficiary According to Probate Law
In probate, a beneficiary (or beneficiaries) is an individual or a group of individuals that were appointed using a last will/estate planning tool to receive a specific amount of assets upon the decedent’s passing.
Notice of Administration
It is a formal document given to beneficiaries and other interested parties to inform them about specific details regarding the probate proceedings. This notice is required by law in Florida and personal representatives are responsible for providing it whenever it is necessary.
County Clerk of Court
Not to be confused with a clerk serving in the courtroom, the County Clerk of Court provides various services such as court services in support of the local judiciary system. During probate, most hearings will likely take place at the County Clerk of Court in the County in which the decedent resided.
#2 – Understand the Definition of Probate Law in Florida
Probate is a court-supervised process that occurs after someone dies owning assets in Florida. In short, it is possible to divide the probate process into:
- Identifying and gathering all assets left by the decedent
- Identifying and paying any existing/outstanding debt left by the decedent
- Distributing the decedent’s remaining assets to his/her beneficiaries
When administering the decedent’s estate, a probate court will only consider probate assets, which are those assets titled in the decedent’s sole name at death. Also, probate assets include those assets co-owned with a third party that lack automatic succession provisions of ownership at the time of the decedent’s passing.
Is Probate Actually Necessary?
Indeed, if someone dies in Florida while owning probate assets, the decedent’s assets held within his/her estate will go through probate before being distributed to their rightful beneficiaries. As it is plain to see, probate is a complex matter. Accordingly, it is critical to hire an experienced attorney to ensure a stress-free process. Feel free to contact a well-versed attorney from Jurado & Associates by calling (305) 921-0976. We will help you the same way we have helped hundreds of clients since 2010 – with our results-driven approach.
#3 – Discover the Rules and Steps of the Probate Process in Florida
Chapters 731 to 735 of the Florida Statutes encompass the Florida Probate Code, which provides a detailed description of the rules concerning all probate proceedings within the state of Florida. In Florida, there are three legal ways to administer someone’s estate upon death – disposition without administration, summary administration, and formal administration.
Disposition Without Administration
The simplest way to administer someone’s estate upon death in Florida is called “disposition without administration.” As the term itself suggests, it permits the decedent’s beneficiaries to circumvent probate entirely. However, disposition without administration applies only to cases in which:
- The decedent did not leave any real estate at all, or
- The decedent’s remaining estate is valued at less than the amount of final expenses (e.g., end-of-life care, funeral/burial expenses)
Popularly known as an expedited version of probate, summary administration applies to cases in which:
- The total value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate is $75,000 or less, or
- The decedent has passed away more than two years ago
When someone’s estate fulfills the requirements neither for disposition without administration nor summary administration, the decedent’s estate must be formally administered.
Formal Administration According to Probate Law
Formal administration is the traditional form of probate in Florida. Accordingly, it is considered the standard form of probate, as this type of administration applies to cases in which:
- The total value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate exceeds $75,000, or
- The decedent has passed away less than two years ago
Formal administration tends to require longer proceedings, usually lasting six to eighteen months before the conclusion. Additionally, formally administering an estate will be more expensive and require extra effort when compared to summary administration.
#4 – Understand the Importance of a Personal Representative According to Probate Law
As provided by Florida Statutes §733, the appointment of a personal representative is mandatory during formal probate proceedings. The personal representative is the person or entity that will serve to administer the decedent’s estate upon official appointment by a judge.
Upon fulfilling the eligibility criteria established by law, the personal representative will receive Letters of Administration issued by the probate court. These letters will officially grant him/her the power to administer the estate subject to probate. Accordingly, the duties of a personal representative include:
- Identify, gather, and safeguard all of the decedent’s assets subject to probate
- Issue Notice of Administration (whenever it is necessary)
- Notify creditors with which the decedent has unpaid/outstanding debt(s)
- Pay valid creditors’ claims against the decedent estate
- Object to improper/unfeasible creditors’ claims against the decedent estate
- File tax returns
- Pay probate-related expenses using the decedent’s remaining assets
- Distribute probate assets to the rightful beneficiaries
- Close the probate estate.
Should the Personal Representative Hire an Attorney?
Ideally, the personal representative must always rely on the guidance of a well-versed probate attorney to assist him/her throughout the probate process. Depending on the circumstances, legal issues may arise in seemingly “simple” probate administrations cases. Expert guidance provided by an expert attorney will ensure that the personal representative satisfies all the legal duties and responsibilities expected under law, as well as guaranteeing a smooth administration process until the estate is closed. Avoid the problems and obtain results in less time by hiring an attorney at Jurado & Associates, P.A.
Probate Law Beyond Florida – How We Can Help You
It is not uncanny to find probate cases that require a multi-pronged legal approach involving assets located outside Florida. The situation can get even more complex when the decedent died owning assets outside Florida without having a last will in place. Regardless of the situation, you can count on the help of Jurado & Associates, P.A. to guide you through the probate process while ensuring peace of mind for all parties involved. Our office has been involved in hundreds of complex probate cases and our expertise permits us to seamlessly navigate probate law, especially for cases that require ancillary administration.
Frequently Asked Questions about Probate Law in Florida
We have collected the most frequently asked questions about probate law in Florida, as well as the different steps concerning the process. Below, find the answers you are looking for.
Must All Florida Estates Undergo Probate According to Probate Law?
In short, not all estates must undergo probate in Florida – depending on each case’s circumstances. If you are still unsure whether probate applies to your case, call (305) 921-0976 to consult with an expert probate attorney.
Are There Probate Exempt Assets in Florida?
Indeed, certain assets are not subject to probate by Florida law. In this context, probate exempt assets include:
- Real estate property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety
- Any property transferred into a trust
- Retirement accounts
- Bank/brokerage accounts under joint tenancy
- Bank/brokerage accounts with payable-on-death and transfer-on-death beneficiaries
- Life insurance or brokerage-related accounts with beneficiaries that are not the decedent
Do Probate Cases Have a Set Timeframe in Florida?
The period required to probate an estate in Florida will depend on several factors, such as the size and value of the decedent’s estate, the existence of an estate plan, the occurrence of legal disputes involving creditors or beneficiaries, etc.
Another crucial factor to ensure a smoother probate process is the quality of legal counsel. Hence, make sure to count only on expert guidance by calling Jurado & Associates, P.A. at (305) 921-0976.
What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will According to Probate Law in Florida?
If someone dies without a last will in Florida, the decedent’s assets are declared “intestate” in court. As provided by Florida Statutes §732, a court will be entirely responsible for determining who receives the decedent’s assets in the absence of a valid will.
Is an Expert Attorney Necessary During Probate in Florida?
Except in a few rare cases, the State of Florida will require the participation of an attorney to represent the parties involved in probate. Ideally, hiring an expert attorney is still the best approach – regardless of whether it is mandatory or not.
Contact Us for Experienced Guidance on Probate Law in Florida
At Jurado & Associates, P.A. we have a team of well-versed attorneys who have handled hundreds of probate cases – from the simplest to the most complex proceedings. Waste no time – consult with an expert probate attorney today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected].