When it comes to probate in Florida, it is not uncommon for family to have questions, so today we are sharing some of the most commonly asked questions about the probate process.

Probate in Florida: Answering Your Probate Questions

Q: I was wondering how to probate a will without a lawyer?

A: In the state of Florida, the law dictates that an attorney is required to go through the probate process.

Q: What is probate?

A: This is a question that is asked very frequently, so you are not alone if you were wondering what probate is. When somebody passes away, they leave behind an estate. That estate usually includes a house and whatever property they have in the house. Hopefully, they leave a last will and testament that dictates what should happen to their estate. Probate is the process that comes after the person passes away and it closes out their estate so that ownership can be transferred. Probate is about more than closing out an estate, though, during probate, the integrity of someone’s last will and testament is also checked. This is an important part of the process because it is an opportunity for the courts and family to ensure that the will is legitimate and was not written under duress or forged. Assuming that the last will and testament is a valid document, the court then works with the executor of the estate to ensure that property is distributed to the right people according to the instructions left in the will. During probate, property is also transferred, so for example if a parent owns their home and decides to leave that property to their only child, the court would help to ensure that the property transfer went smoothly. Without the probate process, the deceased person would still have legal ownership of the house.

Q: When is Probate Required?

A: There are different types of probate that take place depending on the value of the estate. For example formal probate is used for an estate that is valued at more than $75,000. Formal probate is the standard probate for most estates. For estates where assets are worth less than $75,000, something a little less formal called “summary administration” takes place. Summary administration can also take place when the deceased person has been deceased for two or more years. Finally, there is disposition without administration. Disposition without administration takes place when the deceased person has no probatable assets or just enough to cover the cost of their final expenses. Disposition without administration is actually a form of probate without probate – simply because there are no assets to divide or legally transfer.

Q: How Long Does The Probate Process Take?

A: The probate process can take months or even years or it can be a simple matter of weeks. There are so many variables affecting the probate process that it can be difficult even to provide an estimate of how long the probate process will take. Some of these factors include:

  • The size of the estate and type of probate.
  • The number of assets owned by the deceased.
  • Whether or not the deceased person had a last will and testament.
  • Whether or not the last will and testament is being disputed in any way.
  • Any claims made against the estate by creditors.

Q: What Should I Do If I Think My Loved One Was Coerced Into Signing a Different Will?

A: If you believe that your loved one was coerced into signing their last will and testament and/or replacing their previous will, it is important that you dispute this in the probate court. Once you contest the will’s validity, you will be asked to make your case to the court, providing evidence for your point. The court will then look at the case and determine whether they believe that the will is valid or not. If the will is deemed valid, the probate process will continue. If the Last Will and Testament is found invalid, the court will dismiss the will in question and go about disposition in another means. In some cases, the new disposition could be by implementing a previous copy of a last will and testament, it could be by the court interpreting what was meant by the deceased, or it could simply be by hierarchical order. Hierarchical order is an order laid out by the state that determines which relative inherits what by their position in relation to the deceased.

Q: Do I Get Paid to Be An Executor of the Estate?

A: The executive of the estate is permitted to charge a nominal fee for their service because it does take a lot of time to play the role of executor. Additionally, if you hire a probate attorney and probate accountant, reasonable fees will be covered by the estate of the deceased.

Q: Can You Empty A House Before Probate?

A: No. You cannot empty a house before the probate process because the executor of the estate has to catalog everything in the estate for probate and they cannot do this without access to the property. There is just one instance where the house can be emptied before probate and that is when the probate process is not necessary. If you are unsure whether probate is required, the best way to find out is to talk to a probate attorney who can help you to determine if you need probate and what to do in the next step of sorting out the estate.

Looking For A Probate Attorney in Florida?

If you live in Florida and are searching for a probate attorney who can help to answer your probate questions, Attorney Matt Weidner can help! Just give the Weidner Law offices a call today at 727-954-8752 and let us know how we can help you!

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