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Once my father passes, how should I proceed to settle his "estate" when I have no funds to work with?

Fort Myers, FL |

I quit my job and moved to Florida over one year ago to care for my father in his home. Each of us live only on our social security check. His Will leaves fifty percent of his estate to me and fifty percent to his step-daughter, who lives out of state. His condo has two mortgages that can be paid off (just) by selling the condo at current market values. He also has a couple of unsecured loans and some medical bills on which he is making payments. We barely get by, financially. He does have all of his funeral and burial costs paid for. I am named as Executor in his Will. Since there will be no money to pay his mortgages and Condo Association fees after he dies, I don't even know how long I can stay in the condo. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

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It would appear that the home is your father's homestead. Since that is the case, it will pass outside of probate as a matter of law. The other attorneys have mentioned that probate probably should not be opened right away. They say this because after your father passes away, his creditors will have a maximum of two years to file any claims against the estate. If no probate is filed, it is likely that few creditors will be aware of his passing until after the two years has expired.

The problem with this is that you will be forced to continue to pay for the Condo fees and mortgages for the two year period. There are ways to transfer ownership interest in the property that will allow you to sell it after his passing without having to initiate a probate proceeding. Please, do not do so without the advice of a real estate attorney or you may inadvertently trigger the "due on sale" clause for the mortgages. Good luck.

Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. : (727) 647-6645 : : Wills, Trusts, Real Property, Probate, Special Needs: Information provided here is anecdotal and should not be relied upon or considered legal advice. Every matter is different and answers given here are general in nature and may not reflect current Florida law at the time you are reading this posting. Please contact me if you feel you need additional assistance with your matter.


When your father passes on contact a probate lawyer and set up a consultation to go over the details of your father's estate, including his assets, debts, and creditors. Depending on the situation at that time, it may not be advisable to establish a probate right away. There will still be certain things that you would have to do, like file his original Will with the Court and notifying Social Security Administration, but a probate may not be necessary or advisable at the get go.
It may also be a good idea to meet with an estate planning attorney now to see what you can do to make things go smoother when your father does pass on.


Probate is not a necessity. Using certain deeds, beneficiary designations, and other techniques can obviate the need for probate altogether. And it's cheaper. Read my blog about probate avoidance deeds (enhanced life estate deeds).

Please visit our website at and watch our video. It is an eye-opener to most people who have no idea how much Planning they can actually do in their Estate Plans. If interested, contact us to inquire about special low cost monthly financing of your estate planning fee. You may be very surprised at how affordable a comprehensive estate plan for your whole family can be. The above answers are not legal advice and should not be relied upon until you meet with an attorney and review all of your particular facts and circumstances. This forum does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Contact a local estate planning attorney to discuss in detail your father's assets and liabilities. There may be some planning that can be done today to help your situation after your father's death.

Answer does not constitute legal advice. (727) 471-0039 or, This answer is provided for informational and/or educational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Adam is a Florida Attorney practicing in areas of Estate Planning, Elder Law, Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, and Business Law. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.

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