How to Probate a Will in Florida
In times of grief, the last thing anyone wants to think about is the will.
But inevitably, someone will breach that topic. And in the midst of your mourning, your family will have to figure out what to do about your loved one’s possessions.
This is a sensitive matter. Emotions are high, and adding money to the mix doesn’t help anything.
You don’t necessarily need a probate lawyer to distribute assets. But if your loved one’s estate is quite large, or if they left a complex will, it is a good idea to trust the process with someone who has an intimate knowledge of the law.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the process of gathering and distributing a person’s assets after they have passed. This process is supervised by the courts.
These assets include bank accounts, investments, life insurance policies, real estate, or other tangible property. If any of these properties were under joint ownership, ownership is more difficult to ascertain.
Under Florida law, there are two primary ways to probate a will: formal administration and summary administration.
A formal administration is the most common way to probate a will in the state of Florida.
To open the probate process, the executor must file documents with the appropriate court. This is the court of the county the deceased was living in at the time of their death.
If the deceased had any outstanding debts, the deceased’s creditors will be notified of their passing. Creditors will have a 90-day window to make claims against the estate.
After this window passes or the accounts are settled from the estate, the remaining assets are then distributed amongst the beneficiaries.
If the individual has been deceased for over two years, or if the total value of all assets is under $75,000, then you may qualify for a summary administration instead.
To probate a will through a summary administration, the executor or beneficiary must file a Petition for Summary Administration with the county court.
In this petition, you must list all of the assets, as well as any individuals who are eligible to inherit property.
If the deceased has a surviving spouse, they must also sign the petition, stating that they give approval to the distribution of assets.
When this petition is completed, the court will determine its validity. The court will then issue orders releasing property to the beneficiaries.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Probate a Will?
Florida law does not require a lawyer to probate a will, even in a formal administration.
However, wills can often complicate family life. Having legal counsel can offer an impartial voice that can keep beneficiaries calm when emotions are high.
The death of a loved one is always an emotional time filled with uncertainty. Hiring a lawyer that you can trust can add a bit of certainty to an otherwise dark time.
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and need legal counsel to probate a will, contact me today.