Whenever someone who resides or owns property in Florida dies, it may be necessary to start a probate process. Probate refers to the process of administering the estate of someone who died.
If there is a last will, this document will appoint someone to administer the estate, called a personal representative. However, if the person died without a will in Florida, the decedent’s estate will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws.
In this article, you will find out how to start a probate process in Florida.
How to Start a Probate Process in Florida – As Provided by Law
The Florida Probate Code contains all legislation governing probate proceedings. Typically, most cases involving probate require the guidance of an expert probate attorney, given the complexities associated with the process.
In many cases, things can get even more complicated when someone files a lawsuit against the decedent’s estate or the personal representative.
Additionally, all creditor claims to the decedent’s assets may not be accepted after three months from the first publication of the notice to creditors.
Starting a Probate Process in Florida – Meeting the Personal Representative
The personal representative plays a fundamental role in the probate process. In most cases, the decedent appoints who will serve as the personal representative in his/her last will.
If there is no will in place, Florida intestacy law provides that a probate court will determine someone to serve as the personal representative, usually a spouse or a close family member.
Starting a Probate Process in Florida – Filling the Paperwork
After reuniting all necessary documentation, the personal representative must file a petition for administration with a Florida probate court. Additionally, he/she must accept the role of the personal representative and submit an order admitting the will to probate.
Once the process begins, the personal representative must notify the decedent’s beneficiaries that probate is underway. If the decedent had property held in a trust, he/she must also notify the trustee(s) and trust beneficiaries.
Starting a Probate Process in Florida – Letters of Administration
Subsequently, the responsible probate court will issue letters of administration before proceeding with the probate process. Upon receiving these letters, the personal representative must gather the necessary documentation to open an estate account.
This account serves to store only those assets that are subject to probate, as there are assets that do not need to go through probate upon their owner’s death.
Starting a Probate Process in Florida – Issuing Notice to Creditors
If the decedent has any outstanding debt(s), the personal representative must file a notice to creditors after starting a probate process in court. During this phase, creditors can file claims to the decedent’s assets.
Then, the personal representative can decide to either pay the claims or dispute them in court. After settling all remaining debt(s), it is time to liquidate the assets titled solely in the decedent’s name.
All the proceeds obtained in the liquidation process will be deposited into the estate account. With the help of a Florida probate attorney, the personal representative must prepare an income tax return and settle any other applicable taxes (e.g., estate tax).
Starting a Probate Process in Florida – Final Accounting and Distribution
After completing all the steps, the personal representative proceeds to make the decedent’s estate final accounting. Once this step is over, it is possible to initiate the distribution of the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
The asset(s) received by each beneficiary will depend on the provisions contained in the last will or the court decisions of a probate court (if there is no last will in place). Once the probate court officially discharges the personal representative, the probate process is over.
Do You Want to Start a Probate Process? – Work with the Best Probate Attorney in Florida
Dealing with probate proceedings in Florida is a complex task that requires a professional approach. Call Attorney Romy B. Jurado today at (305) 921-0976 or send an email to [email protected] to schedule a consultation.