Unfortunately, Florida law says that a lawyer must file the paperwork related to probate. $2,000 is a fairly standard price, but there are other competent attorneys who may be willing to do it on an hourly rate, especially if the only thing that needs to be dealt with is the house. If there are any creditors or any other property that needs to be dealt with, that may affect the price. A summary administration is for estates with a value of $75,000 or less - this amount does not include the value of the homestead which is a non-probate asset. However, even though it is a non-probate asset, it still has to go through a court procedure to have it officially transferred to the decedent's heirs, or according the Will. You can contact the Florida Bar for a referral, or do a little more of your own research to find someone that knows what they are doing but may also be willing to fit your budget. Most of this kind of work can be done by mail, so an attorney anywhere in the county where your mother's house is can be used.
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The prior attorney offers sound advice. A long shot would be to call the insurance company to ask them if you could return the check and have it reissued to you as the sole beneficiary. Explain to them that their check is the sole asset of the estate and that they are forcing you to go through a time consuming and expensive procedure. Offer them a death certificate and a copy of the will. This may not work but they may have a form you can sign that gets them off the hook in these cases. This may be a complete dead end but it may be worth a try.
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Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law in PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties in the state of Pennsylvania. He phone number is 215-735-2336 and his email address is listed below.
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Mr. Fromm's suggestion is an excellent one. You might emphasize that it was you, not the estate, that paid the unearned premium, and therefore that premium should be returned to you. However, you should also consider whether you will need a probate proceeding anyway, such as to get title to the property.
I don't have all of the facts and this does not constitute legal advice. If you want to discuss the matter further, please contact my office directly. (We are in Broward County).
This won't help with the ownership of the home, but if all you need is to deposit the check, "Disposition of Personal Property without Administration" may work.
If the decedent’s estate consists only of (i) personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under Section 732.402, Florida Statutes; (ii) personal property valued at up to $1,000.00 exempt from the claims of creditors under Art. X, § 4(a)(2) of the Constitution of Florida; and (iii) nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses ($6,000.00), and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the decedent’s last illness, it may be that no administration is necessary.
Florida Statutes § 735.301 and Florida Probate Rule 5.420 provide that, on request, the Clerk of Court will assist in the preparation of the required documents to complete the payment, transfer, or disposition of such personal property.
Form is found on the attached link
Also, some lawyers will just deposit the check in their trust account and then distribute the funds; that solves the problem.
Russell R. Winer
Attorney at Law
Cornerstone Bank Building
1840 4th Street North, Suite 201
St Petersburg FL 33704-4303