Florida probate lawyer, Matthew Weidner has long worked with Florida probate clients and firmly believes that one of the best things he can do for every one of his clients is to ensure that they know everything they should about probate – that’s why today he is sharing some important facts about probate!
Florida Probate Lawyer Shares 10 Probate Facts You Need to Know
1. Formal Probate Is Not Always Required
A formal probate process is not always required when someone passes away. If someone’s estate assets are valued at over $100,000 AND only owned by them, the formal probate process is required, but if these two criteria are not met, the estate does not have to go through the formal process of probate.
2. If You Live in Florida, You Must Have a Florida Attorney For the Probate Process
In the state of Florida, to go through the probate process you must – by law – hire a probate attorney to help with the process. There are two exceptions to this rule – Florida does not require you to retain a probate attorney for estates that are going through “disposition without administration” and estates where the executor of the estate is the only beneficiary.
3. The Probate Process Can Take A Long Time
There is no hard and fast rule for the length of the probate process. Depending on your case, your probate process can be extended. For example, if someone contests the will in court, the probate process can be delayed and depending on how long that contesting process is, you may be caught up in the red tape for longer than you expected.
4. The Executor of the Estate Does Not Pay For Probate
There is a common misconception that the executor of the estate has to pay the cost of probate out of their own pocket – this is not the case. The cost of probate is covered by the estate of the deceased. In fact, the executor of the estate can claim for their expenses and receive payment out of the estate.
5. Debts of the Deceased Are Still Owed
When someone passes away, their debts do not disappear, they are still owed. The debts that the deceased person owes are paid out of their estate. Claims made by creditors are paid by the estate before bequests under the will, so creditors can be paid before bequests that are made on the will.
6. Taxes Still Have to Be Paid
When someone dies, their final taxes still have to be paid and it is up to the executor to ensure that final taxes are filed and taken care of out of the estate funds.
7. Probate Isn’t Free
The probate process isn’t free, it requires the executor to take time out of their schedule to take care of estate matters and time costs money. Since it is also required by law that a probate attorney must assist on the probate case, there is the cost of hiring a probate attorney, and the cost of a probate accountant if one is involved in settling the estate.
8. You May Need to Go Through Probate Multiple Times
Depending on how much property the deceased person owns, there may be more than one probate process involved. Each property owned must undergo probate in the respective county. For example, if someone passes away and owns two homes – one in county A and one in county B, there must be two probate procedures – one for each property in each respective county. Probate is necessary for each property because the property ownership cannot be transferred to a beneficiary without first going through the probate process.
9. Probate Can Take Place While You Are Still Living
Probate can still take place if the property owner is still alive – this happens when someone becomes incapacitated without a healthcare proxy in place, a relative can petition the court for transfer of ownership of the property – this is why it is so important to have a living will in place – so that you can ensure that your final wishes are carried out.
10. Probate is a Public Process
Probate is not a private process – probate records are accessible to the public and the probate process involves making public notifications to creditors which are accessible to anyone.