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Do I need an attorney to petition a court to release a will in Florida?

Sarasota, FL |

My father owns a home in Sarasota Florida and moved to Ohio, where he later died. His will was filed in Sarasota, but the lawyers decided that the primary probate/estate needs to be established in Ohio. The attorney in Florida is saying that I need him (billable hours) to petition the court to release my father's will. Is this something I can do without the assistance of an attorney?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Lawyers do not decide probate jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is vested in the state of the decedent's domicile at death. If your father had an Ohio drivers license, considered Ohio to be his permanent residence, and did not claim a homestead tax exemption for his Sarasota home then his domicile at death may have been Ohio.

    All personal representatives must have an attorney admitted to practice in Florida represent them unless the personal representative is an attorney or is the sole interested person in the estate. If you are the only heir to your father's estate and there are no other interested persons in his estate then you may be able to represent his estate in Florida. When an attorney enters their appearance in a probate matter they generally earn every billable hour they charge you and sometimes people who did not hire an attorney wish they had.

  2. You should have your Ohio attorney request the FL Probate Court provide them with an "exemplified copy" of the Will. If insufficient, the Ohio Probate Clerk can contact the Sarasota Probate Clerk and inquire whether they will deliver the original to Ohio. Regardless, you will still need probate in Florida due to the real property.

  3. Just get a certified copy from the court - Around $1 per page, and have the lawyer use that for the probate in Ohio.

    David Goldman
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    331 East Monroe Street
    Jacksonville, FL 32202

    Tel (904) 685-1200 Fax (904) 212-0678

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