Probate Law

The Probate Process 101: Your Guide to Florida Probate

It is always a good time to get back to basics. Each state in the U.S. has its own laws with regard to probating a deceased person’s estate, and Florida is no exception. If you have recently lost a loved one and would like to know how the probate process in Florida works, then you have picked the right article.

In this article, we will discuss some Florida probate basics from the different types of probate to a step-by-step guide to the probate process itself. This will be a perfect primer on what you should expect when dealing with the probate of an estate for your recently departed loved one.  

One thing to keep in mind with all of the information below – prepare yourself to remain patient through the whole probate process. Having a probate court administer someone’s estate can be time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating at times.  Things that you think should move quickly, don’t, and you may at times feel that there is a lot of the proverbial “red tape” to simply handle basic probate steps. Yet, probate courts are busy, and it may have difficulty handling the volume of cases it must manage. That is why patience is a virtue with the Florida probate process.

If, after reading this article, you have additional questions about the probate process, then we welcome you to give our Palm Beach attorneys a call at Doane & Doane, PA. Our firm focuses on probate, estate, and tax matters. We care deeply about our clients and want to make sure that they have the best, most up-to-date, information available.   

At Doane & Doane, PA, we strive to give our clients the personalized legal counsel they need to appropriately take care of their taxes and other estate matters. Contact the Palm Beach probate lawyers at Doane & Doane, PA for probate, and estate planning advice and services. You can contact us today at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form.

Different Kinds of Probate

One size does not fit all in Florida, meaning there is a probate process depending upon the size of the decedent’s estate.

Summary Administration 

The word “summary” in Florida’s summary administration is another way of saying “quick.” Indeed, if the estate is not that large, or if it has been a long time since the person passed, then a quicker process is appropriate.  

Thus, if the decedent has an estate that is valued less than $75,000, or if the decedent died over two years ago, then a summary administration process in Florida would be appropriate.

Formal Administration

If the estate has a value higher than $75,000, or if the decedent died less than two years ago, then the more common formal administration process is the most appropriate. Your probate attorney can assist you further in which is the necessary process to follow.  

Disposition Without Administration

There are limited circumstances when you can skip the probate process for your deceased loved one altogether if the value of the estate left at death has no real estate and the remaining assets are valued at less than what it would cost to actually go through the probate process.  

Is There a Will?

The existence of a will can, in some part, dictate how the process will go forward. Of course, if someone has a will, then the document should provide guidance on the distribution of the estate assets. If, however, the decedent dies without a will, then Florida law finds that the person died “intestate” and thus Florida’s laws of intestacy apply. Those laws essentially are the State’s guidance on the distribution of assets to family members, when no other information on distribution is available.  

Step-by-Step Probate Stages

1. Find a probate lawyer.  You do not want to go through the process without a lawyer.  When you first meet your lawyer, be sure to have as much documentation regarding insurance policies, financial statements, and property deeds as possible.
2. File the probate petition. Normally, the personal representative stated in the will (or appointed by a court in intestate cases) will file a probate petition to begin the process.
3. Send notice to beneficiaries and creditors. Once the probate is opened, all those who may receive assets from the estate, or who are owed money from the estate needs to be notified that the probate has been opened.
4. Seek a Letter of Administration from the court. Next, the personal representative opens a bank account that is considered the estate account to be the central place for the estate’s financial transactions.
5. Settle debts. Before beneficiaries can receive assets from the estate, the debts of the estate still need to be paid.  This happens with creditors making claims, those claims being reviewed, and the valid ones being paid.
6. Have an estate account. Once all debts have been paid, the personal representative can then do a final accounting of what is left in the estate account.
7. Distribute the assets. The personal representative will then finally distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
8. Finalize the probate case. The final step is that the personal representative must file legal paperwork that officially closes the probate case.  

Look to the Palm Beach Probate Attorneys at Doane & Doane for Help

Founded in 2003 by husband and wife legal team, Randell C. Doane and Rebecca G. Doane, Doane & Doane provides legal and financial services to families, individuals, and businesses throughout Southeast Florida.

Estate planning is about much more than just giving away property. It is an act of love and kindness, with the ultimate goal of providing for the future financial security of your loved ones. At Doane & Doane, our Wills and Trusts Attorneys West Palm Beach help people plan for retirement, make provisions for loved ones, figure out future child support, and minimize tax liability. Experienced wills and trusts attorneys know which tools to use to get the best results for their clients. Our lawyers can help you determine which tools are best suited to your specific circumstances.

When it comes to probate matters, such as the formal administration of an estate, Florida fiduciaries seek the assistance of the attorneys at Doane & Doane, P.A. to administer and manage their trusts and estates. Notably, the founding partners of Doane & Doane are board-certified West Palm Beach Probate Attorneys. With the additional advantage of certified public accountancy in their backgrounds, they present a unique combination of skills and experience which enables them to effectively settle, administer, and manage clients’ trust and estates.

Call us at Doane & Doane, P.A. to help you if you are faced with a probate matter, or if you would like estate planning services in Florida. You can reach us at 561-656-0200. Call us today.