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Probate in Florida
One of the most significant legal factors is distributing the deceased’s estate to beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors. Probate is the process of examining a will, and at the Lopez Law Group, we can guide you through it with accuracy and care. After a loved one passes, the purpose of probate is to minimize complexity and see the family through a smooth transition. It is specifically designed to protect the desires of the deceased and to give relatives a roadmap to honoring their wishes. The Florida Probate Code can be found in Chapters 731 through 735 in the Florida Statutes.
The Probate Process
There is typically a legal process that must be followed during probate which is why it is a great idea to have an attorney present as much as possible. The basic steps include:
Someone is appointed as the administrator of the estate. If there is a will, it typically names this person who is then referred to as the “executor.”
The will then must be proven valid in court. State law governs the probate process so following state requirements is essential to moving things along.
The deceased person’s property is identified and inventoried. Nothing should be distributed or sold until the probate is complete. Assets that are included in the probate process are those that were owned by the decedent before their death. These could be in the form of bank accounts or investment accounts, any life insurance policies or retirement accounts, and any real property which the decedent owned at the time of their death. This list is does not contain everything, but it is a start.
All properties are appraised.
Debts and taxes owed are paid. This is why probate is extremely important. It pays off any debts that the decedent had and helps wrap up the financial affairs of the decedent.
The remaining assets are distributed according to the will and decedent’s final wishes.
When there is no will, the process differs slightly.
What is Intestate?
In the event an individual dies without a will, it is called “intestate.” Florida has specific laws about the distribution of assets if there is no will. It can be subject to certain exceptions that may surprise some people. This is why it is critical to have the right representation by your side. If there is no will and the decedent has no heirs, the state of Florida will step in and take any assets the decedent may have had. There are specific rules governing how the property is to be distributed if the decedent did have heirs, and those rules dictate where the property is to go in the absence of a will.
Who is involved in the probate process?
There are many parties involved in the probate process. You will be dealing with the local courts, local judge, the personal representative of the decedent, any attorney who may be hired to give legal advice about the probate process and help facilitate the process, any debtors who may have money owed to them by the decedent and if there is an IRS issue you may be dealing with the IRS at some point to square away the decedents taxes. As you can see, the list is extensive, and it can get overwhelming very quickly. Having an attorney by your side who can help make this process as smooth as possible is always the preferred route.
Get an Experienced Attorney Involved to Help
We know this can be a trying time for everyone involved. The Lopez Law Group fosters a deep dedication to their clients. We understand how emotionally and physically exhausting everything can be. If your family needs legal experts who will take the time to customize probate for you in Florida, contact us for a consultation today. We can be reached at 727-933-0015. Our attorneys are standing by and are ready to assist in this trying time for you and your family.