The time following a loved one’s death can be confusing and even overwhelming, particularly when it comes to settling his or her estate. Working with a Miami probate attorney can significantly alleviate this confusion, as can having a basic understanding of how probate works.
Here are some aspects of the Florida probate process that everyone should know.
Filing the Will
Though not technically part of the probate process in Florida itself, the first step is always to determine whether or not the deceased had a will. If so, one must file it with the circuit court nearest to the city he or she resided in within 10 days of his/her death. If the will is deemed valid by the court and an executor has been appointed within it, that individual will be responsible for overseeing the will’s execution. If the court does not validate the will or one does not exist, the court will nominate an executor of the estate in most instances.
From there, the next step will be to determine whether the estate will go through the Florida probate process at all. Some assets are exempt from probate, such as property owned and occupied by another individual in addition to the deceased, assets held in a living trust, and those for which a beneficiary has been appointed. Additionally, when the deceased’s assets are limited, probate may not be necessary either.
Determining the Administrative Process
If the matter must go through probate, it may either go through a streamlined process known as summary administration, or formal administration. The estate will only qualify for summary administration if it is valued at less than $75,000 or the individual has been dead for more than two years. A lawyer can assist the executor (or the beneficiaries) with filing a Petition for Summary Administration to request this simplified process. If granted, the estate will not have a formal executor and the court will instead release the deceased’s assets to those who should inherit it.
Under formal administration, the executor will be responsible for presenting the court with a list of the deceased’s assets, settling his or her affairs, and distributing assets under the guidance of the court. Beneficiaries will have the opportunity to object, and upon the settlement of any objections, evidence must be provided to the court and the estate will be closed. This process can take up to a year, as opposed to a month or two for summary administration.
Do you have questions about the probate process in Florida? Contact a Miami probate attorney at Graham Legal today to get the guidance you need.