When it comes to understanding the Florida probate process, things can get a little complicated if you don’t have any experience with probate court or understanding “legal speak”. That’s why today, we’re taking a close look at the process of probate in Florida step by step.
The Florida Probate Process Step-By-Step
The Florida Probate Process: Filing the Petition for Probate
To begin the probate process, a petition for probate must be filed with the clerk of the Florida circuit court in the county where the testator (writer of the will) lived and the will must be admitted to probate.
The Florida Probate Process: Recognizing the Executor of the Estate
The personal representative of the estate as established in the will is then recognized by the court. If a will is not present or an executor of the estate is not established, you may petition the court to be assigned as the executor of the estate. If the court appoints you as the executor of the estate, you will be issued Letters of Administration by the court. These letters of administration give you the authority to settle the estate.
The Florida Probate Process: Notice of Probate
As the executor of the estate, you must then provide notice of probate to all interested parties. This includes notifying beneficiaries and heirs of probate. The executor must also publish a notice to creditors which notifies creditors of the probate of the estate. This notice to creditors must specify the date by which creditors must submit their claims.
The Florida Probate Process: Paying Debts, Taxes, and Final Expenses
The next step for the executor is to ensure that the final expenses of the deceased are paid for out of the estate, that any required taxes are paid, and that any outstanding debts are paid from the estate. There is a specific order in which outstanding debts and creditors must be paid with some claims taking precedence over others so that if there is not enough of the estate to cover all debts, those that take priority will be paid first.
The Florida Probate Process: Transfer of the Remaining Assets
Once debts, taxes, and final expenses have been taken care of, the executor of the estate must petition the court for permission to transfer the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries as indicated in the will. If there was not a will present, the assets must be distributed as directed by Florida state law dictates. The estate is then concluded.
The Florida Probate Process Isn’t Quite That Simple, Though…
Although the steps listed above seem quite easy to understand and follow, there is a lot of red tape involved in the probate process and it’s important that you dot all of your I’s and cross all of your t’s in order for the probate process to go smoothly.
The best way to make sure that your administration of an estate is done correctly is to consult a probate attorney. Here at Weidner Law, we specialize in probate law in the St Petersburg, Florida area and we have assisted more than a few Florida residents with the probate process. With a probate attorney on your side, you will make sure that you don’t miss important deadlines or skip necessary steps in the probate process that could hold up the probate process or cause complications.
Common Mistakes Made During the Probate Process
Some of the most common mistakes that are made and steps that are forgotten when a probate attorney is not hired to assist with probate include:
- Waiting too long to start the probate process
- Not maintaining an open line of communication with heirs and beneficiaries of an estate
- Not keeping an accurate inventory of estate assets
- Failing to educate yourself on the probate process so that you know what to expect from the process
- Procrastinating on any part of the probate process
- Failing to file a 706 Federal Estate Tax Return
- Failure to secure assets of the estate
- Failing to identify property that is exempt from probate
- Failing to make the proper notifications to creditors
- Failure to keep proper accounting of expenses incurred during the probate process
- Failing to get the “ok” from the court to distribute assets among heirs and beneficiaries of an estate
- Waiting too long to market real estate
- Failing to conclude the estate
- Paying creditors and claims against the estate improperly or in the wrong order
- Filing a will that is not the most recent version of the will
- Failing to claim or properly utilize the available family allowance
Need Help with the Florida Probate Process?
If you need help with the Florida probate process attorney Matt Weidner can help! To find out how just call Weidner Law today at 727-954-8752 to make an appointment for your consultation.