Important Details About Florida Probate Law You Need To Know
When a person dies in Florida, the Probate process helps ensure that his or her debts, taxes, loans, and other expenses are properly paid, and assists with the distribution of the remaining assets to the beneficiaries listed in the decedent’s Will.
Is hiring a Probate Attorney Required by Florida Probate Law?The Short answer: Yes.
In Florida, Probate Law requires you to retain a licensed Probate Attorney to handle the administration of an estate, in the majority of cases. Although some exceptions to this rule exist, it is best for all parties involved in a Florida Probate case to hire an experienced Florida Probate Attorney to help with the execution of the Will and the final distribution of the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries.
What is Formal Administration?Formal Administration is the most common type of Probate administration in Florida. This type of Probate administration is necessary when either a newly deceased person (defined as someone who died in the past two years) has estate assets totaling more than $75,000 in value or in cases where the deceased individual requested this type of administration in his or her Will.
What is Summary Administration?Just as it sounds, Summary Administration is a shortened version of the Florida Probate process that is significantly less complex and time-consuming than Formal Administration. However, this type of administration is not always available. Summary Administration is only available in cases where the decedent meets one of two criteria:
- He or she has been deceased for more than two years, or
- His or her assets total less than $75,000 in value.
Should I Choose Summary Administration if My Case Qualifies For It?Under Florida Probate Law, if you meet the criteria for the Formal Administration process, your Probate case will be handled through that type of administration. However, Summary Administration is different. If your Probate case qualifies for Summary Administration, you are legally allowed to choose Formal Administration instead. This is, however, a decision that you should not make on your own; the help of an experienced Florida Probate Attorney is crucial.
Why Should I Hire a Probate Attorney?During the administration of a decedent’s estate, the person named personal representative will likely have many questions about the Probate process regarding matters such as deadlines and paperwork; these are questions only an experienced Florida Probate Attorney can answer.
For Florida Probate cases going through Formal Administration, consultation with a licensed Probate Attorney is a Florida Probate Law requirement because of the complex nature of the tasks assigned to the personal representative of an estate. When it comes to cases going through Summary Administration, although it is not required by law to hire a Florida Probate Attorney, it is highly advisable.
An experienced Florida Probate Attorney can help ensure that the personal representative is administering the estate properly and completing the numerous tasks required, such as:
- Sending notices to all known creditors, allowing them to file a claim against the estate;
- Addressing all valid creditor claims;
- Managing the decedent’s assets until the final distribution to the beneficiaries; and,
- Paying any taxes owed by the decedent.
Can I Avoid the Florida Probate Process?In the majority of Florida Probate cases, the decedent did not leave behind a valid Will, which is why the estate is required by Florida Probate Law to go through Probate and personal representatives are required to consult with a Florida Probate Attorney. However, there is an exception to this law, which occurs when the estate’s assets are funded by a living revocable trust, which is not bound by Probate Law and will remain private, whereas the proceedings of most Florida Probate cases are recorded publicly.