If a loved one in your family has passed away, there are many considerations to handle all at one time, usually when you are feeling many emotions and a great deal of stress. In this article, we will give you some basics with regard to the formal administration of an estate based on Florida law, so you have a point of reference as you work through this difficult time.
Moreover, we at Doane & Doane understand your questions and concerns, and we are here to help. We have focused our practice on probate, estate, and tax matters. We care deeply about people who are dealing with the emotional task of handling the death of a loved one or planning properly so their family is taken care of in case of a tragedy.
We are passionate about giving our clients the personalized legal counsel they need to appropriately take care of many major life and death decisions.
In that vein, to make things that much easier for you, we welcome you to consider contacting us at Doane & Doane, PA for formal administration advice and assistance. You can contact us today at 561-656-0200 or fill out our online contact form.
What is Probate?
In essence, probate is a process that occurs in the court. The purpose of a probate court is to properly transfer a deceased person’s assets to the parties who are supposed to receive those assets.
It is often the case that a person will have a last will and testament that leaves assets to a particular beneficiary, or beneficiaries. Yet, when that person passes away, his home is still in his name and his bank account is still in his name. A beneficiary cannot take control of those particular assets right away. Rather, the probate court’s job is to legally change the ownership of those assets from being in the deceased person’s name to the beneficiary’s name.
What Is Formal Administration?
In Florida, there are two types of probate administration – summary administration and formal administration. Each type of administration has its own rules, although they both generally have the same goal: to properly administer a deceased person’s estate according to his or her wishes and in accordance with Florida law.
A summary administration is used for estates that have relatively few assets, i.e., estates with less than $75,000. The remainder of estates need to be administered under the formal administration process. This article will focus on the formal type of administration.
What are the Basics of the Formal Administration Process?
To begin a probate proceeding, you must first file an initial petition for administration. You also need to file a petition to appoint a personal representative.
You then need to file the official death certificate and the deceased person’s last will and testament, if one exists. The probate court then reviews those filings, appoints a personal representative, and signs letters of administration.
At that point, the estate is considered “open.” Then, the personal representative has the job of administering the estate through the probate process.
If the Will Is Uncontested, Do I Still Need Formal Administration?
Yes, you still need to go through probate if the deceased person has a valid and uncontested will. In fact, a last will and testament mean probate. A last will and testament is essentially a direction to the probate judge as to how a person wants his or her assets to be distributed after death. So, against what you may have heard, a will does not avoid probate. Rather, a will is a very thing that probate was designed to administer.
It should be noted, however, that if your spouse passes away and his or her assets were jointly owned by you, then probate is not necessary for those assets. For example, if you and your spouse jointly held a bank account, then that account does not need to go through probate. However, if your spouse had a bank account that was just in his or her name, then the bank account would need to go through probate.
Look to Doane & Doane for Help with Formal Administration Matters
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 one. At Doane & Doane, our Wills and Trusts Attorneys West Palm Beach help people plan for retirement, make provisions for loved ones, 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’ trusts and estates.
We know that overseeing an estate can be a time-consuming and complicated process. We help clients every step of the way. Our probate administrative services include:
1.Proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid
2.Identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s propert
3. Property appraisal
4. Supervising and arranging the estate’s debts and taxes
5. Distributing property as directed by a will
5. Transferring title and ownership of assets to the proper beneficiaries
The personal representative, executor, or executrix must follow Florida law to conclude the decedent’s affairs, including:
1. Giving the proper notices to proper parties
2. Collecting the decedent’s property
3. Receiving claims against the estate
4. Paying valid claims and disputing others
5. Distributing estate property according to the will or state law
6. Selling estate property to cover debts or allow for proper distribution, if necessary
Call us at Doane & Doane, P.A., to help you if you are faced with an ancillary probate matter, or if you own property in Florida and wish to avoid ancillary probate. You can reach us at 561-656-0200. Call us today.