When it comes to Florida probate, the process can get quite confusing if you don’t have a probate attorney to walk you through the process. Weidner Law, located in St Petersburg, Florida, is experienced with the Florida probate process and can help you to navigate your role as an estate executor or simply as an heir to the estate. Today, to help you to get a better picture of how the probate process works, what you should expect from it, and how a Florida probate attorney can help you, we are sharing 10 things that you need to know!

10 Florida Probate Facts You Should Know

1. Florida does not recognize handwritten or joint wills!

If your loved one left behind a handwritten or joint will with their spouse, that will is not going to be recognized in probate court.

2. Probate is only concerned with certain types of assets!

Probate assets are the assets owned by the deceased solely in their name at the time of their death OR assets that are co-owned but that do not have an established provision for the automatic succession of ownership in the event of death.

3. Florida probate estate administration fees

In the state of Florida, legal fees for a “Formal Estate Administration” must, by law, be reasonable but they are usually calculated at around three percent of the probate assets. That said, estates that require an extraordinary amount of legal work or guidance may include additional charges on their bill for services.

4. As a personal representative, you are entitled to payment

Serving as a personal representative for a last will and testament can be time-consuming which is why you are entitled to payment for your role as a personal representative. This fee is 3% of the probate estate.

5. Not all assets will pass through Florida probate

Not all assets of the departed are going to pass through Florida probate. An example of some assets that are not processed through probate include:

  • Assets that have been placed in a trust.
  • Assets that have been disposed of through ife insurance policies, payable on death accounts, or retirement accounts.
  • Property that is joint-owned with the right of survivorship passing to the surviving tenants outside the probate process.

6. A personal representative should always hire a certified CPA AND lawyer

As a personal representative in the probate process, you should always hire a certified COA and a lawyer to assist in the complexities of the probate process. A CPA can take care of any unfiled tax returns, file the final tax return of the deceased as well as final tax returns for the estate of the deceased,

7. There are SIX Florida probate deadlines that you need to be aware of when going through the probate process.

When going through the probate process, you need to ensure that everything is completed in a timely manner and by the necessary deadlines. These six deadlines are as follows:

  • 10 Days after death – Deposit the will.
  • 60 days after issuance of Letters of Administration –  File probate inventory.
  • On or before the later of the date of three months after the first date of publication or thirty days after service of Notice Of Creditors for known creditors – Creditor Deadline For Filing Claim Against Estate.
  • The later of either four months from first publication of the notice of creditors or 30 days from the filing of a claim or amendment of a claim – Personal Representative Deadline for Objecting to a Claim.
  • Two years from the date of death (except for IRS claims) – Statute Of Limitations For Claims Against Either An Administered Or Unadministered Estate.
  • 6 months from decedent’s death to opt out of life estate in homestead and take 50% interest – Surviving Spouse Homestead Election.

8. As a personal representative, it’s your job to notify any beneficiaries!

If you are serving as a personal representative in the probate process, it is your job to ensure that all beneficiaries noted in the last will and testament are notified of such. It’s helpful to have an attorney during this part of the process because they can help to assist you in tracking down beneficiaries and serving them with notices when necessary.

9. If the last will and testament is to be contested it must be done before probate is complete!

If anyone wishes to contest the validity or authenticity of the last will and testament in question, the process of contesting the will must be done before the probate process has been completed. In Florida, valid reasons for contesting a will include undue influence, fraud or mental incapacity. Contesting a will is done by filing a Petition for the Revocation of Probate with the probate court.

10. The Florida probate process can involve a large number of people!

The Florida probate process, depending on the particular estate, can involve a large number of people, including:

  • The clerk of the circuit court in the Florida county where the deceased person lived at the time of their death.
  • The circuit court judge
  • A personal representative or executor of the will.
  • A probate attorney who can legally advise the personal representative through probate proceedings.
  • Debtors of the deceased (including credit cards, health care providers, etc.)  who may be filing claims for a debt owed.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (they will collect any federal income taxes owed by the deceased or their probate estate.)
  • Any designated beneficiaries named in the will.

Are You Facing Florida Probate and Need a Reputable Florida Probate Attorney?

If you’re in the St Petersburg, Florida area and are facing probate and need the services of a reputable Florida probate attorney, Weidner Law can help! To arrange for your consultation with Weidner Law, just pick up the phone and dial 727-954-8752.

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