The Probate Process

the probate process

Dying is an expensive and complicated process in the United States. Not only are funerals costly, but the distribution of the wealth can be quite complex. When a person dies in Florida, their estate will go through a probate process. It may be helpful to know the process of probate if you are the executor of an estate or if you believe you are entitled to funds from an estate.

Formal Probate Administration

If a person’s estate is worth over $75,000, it will go through formal probate. There are six basic steps to this process.

1. Deposit the Will

If the person who has died has a will, you will begin by telling the court that the person has died. A custodian must give the Clerk of Court in the decedent’s jurisdiction a copy of the will within ten days after learning of their death. If the decedent did not leave a copy of their will with somebody, anybody who has an interest in the estate might petition the court for access to any safety deposit boxes that belong to the decedent.

2. Petition for Administration

A person who has an interest in the estate will then make a request to administer the assets. A person who will be impacted by the distribution of the will may petition for administration even if no will exists.

3. A Personal Representative is Appointed

You have probably heard the term “executor of an estate.” used in relation to a will. The executor is the person who is legally authorized to act as the representative of the decedent. The state of Florida refers to the executor as a “personal representative.”

4. The Validity of the Will is Established

There are a few different ways a will may be established as valid. A self-proved will is one that is signed by the will-maker in front of two signing witnesses. A self-proved will does not have to be validated.

If the will was unsigned, or if it was not witnessed in writing, a person who visually watched the signing of the will or otherwise knows it's valid may swear that it is valid under oath.

If a personal representative is named in the will, they can also swear that it is valid under oath. If a personal representative is not named, an objective third party who knew the decedent can swear that the will is valid under oath.

5. Managing Assets and Handling Accounting

The personal representative is authorized to make decisions about transferring property titles. They are also allowed to file an interim accounting of the estate if they want to. This will keep the amount of money in the estate up-to-date.

The personal representative will then make a final accounting in which they will disclose all the actions that have been taken to administer the estate.

6. Closing the Estate

The personal representative will petition to close the estate. They will present a formal plan for the disbursement of the assets at this time. The creditors and the beneficiaries of the estate will be paid, and the personal representative will be discharged.

There are certain situations in which the estate may be reopened. A new heir might be discovered or there may be an issue with fraud.

If an estate is worth under $75,000, the process is much simpler, so long as the decedent did not owe any money and if everyone named in the will agrees to the terms. If the estate was under $2,000, it will not go through probate court, but the court will assist you in processing the disbursement of the funds.

Dying is a complicated business. When a loved one dies, it is important to have the assistance of a Miami probate lawyer.

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Posted - 04/19/2021