Probate Attorney in St. Petersburg
We Have Handled Probate Matters for Many Families Throughout Florida
The question is often asked; What is probate? In essence, probate is the court supervised process of concluding the affairs of someone after they die. In probate, the deceased person is called the “decedent”. The probate process includes several important steps. These steps are intended to provide for:
- The identification, collection and protection of the decedent’s property and assets, which constitute the “probate estate”;
- The identification and payment of the decedent’s just debts; and,
- The ultimate distribution of the probate estate to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Following the death of a loved one or friend, because of the complexity and nature of most probate proceedings, it is necessary to obtain the help of a probate attorney. Probate can be required in many instances whether or not the decedent died with a Last Will and Testament, which means they died “testate”, or without a Will, in which case they died “intestate”. Typically, if the probate is testate, there will be a Personal Representative (also called an “Executor”) named in the Will. In an intestate estate, since there is no Will, the Personal Representative is selected based upon a list set forth in the Florida Statutes. In either event, the Personal Representative is not actually authorized to act as such until a probate judge appoints them by issuing a court order document which is called “Letters of Administration” (in some places they are also called “Letters Testamentary”).
Although a probate administration can be required to transfer the decedent’s home, Florida’s Homestead exemption may often be utilized to greatly simplify the procedure. So long as the decedent treated the property as his or her Homestead according to law, at the time of death, it may qualify for easy transfer, even when other assets may need to be fully probated. If the decedent owned non-Homestead real estate that will typically require probate to be transferred to a beneficiary.
Florida law provides for more than one type of probate depending upon the circumstances involved.
Several Forms of Probate in Florida
Florida law provides for more than one type of probate depending upon the circumstances involved. A very simplified form of probate, called “Summary Administration”, may be available for smaller estates. In order to qualify for Summary Administration, either the decedent must be dead for more than two years, or the total value of the probate estate, excluding the value of exempt property, may not exceed $75,000. While this second manner of qualifying may sound difficult in many situations, it is actually much more common than one might think. An experienced probate lawyer can help determine if a probate estate can qualify for Summary Administration. As a general rule, Summary Administration is the least expensive and most quickly resolved form of probate in Florida since there is no need to appoint a Personal Representative, and because creditor claims are typically minimal and easily resolved.
Another type of probate in Florida is called “Formal Administration”. In this type of administration, a Personal Representative must be appointed, and a Notice to Creditors must be published in the newspaper. Creditors must be given 90 days to file claims against the estate. Often, this form of administration will be necessary when a home or other property and assets have to be sold before they can be distributed to beneficiaries, or used to pay the claims of creditors. Because Formal Administration is, as the name says, much more formal in its rules, requirements and deadlines, it tends to take longer and be more costly than Summary Administration.
If you need a probate lawyer, please give us a call. We have handled probate matters for many families in and throughout Florida.
If you require probate services, you should retain an experienced probate attorney. If you need a probate lawyer, please schedule a consultation with us. We have handled probate matters for many families in and throughout Florida. We always offer a free 30 minute in office probate consultation in our St. Petersburg office, or in Palm Harbor, by appointment.
The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice as that can only be given by a direct consultation with the attorney after having reviewed your entire matter and relevant documentation. Actual terms and conditions of representation will be contained in the Representation Agreement.
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