Probate is a term that often strikes fear into the hearts of clients at a time when they are particularly vulnerable or emotional. As a result of their knowledge of the law and their experience handling probate matters, the attorneys at Conte | Trevett, P.L. help clients by providing the expertise necessary to make the process as easy and manageable as possible.
WHAT IS PROBATE?
Probate is the court-supervised process of identifying and collecting a decedent’s assets, paying the debts that the decedent left behind, and distributing the remaining assets of the estate to his or her beneficiaries. The probate process, which can be very complicated, is governed by Florida Statutes called the Florida Probate Code and by rules of Court known as the Florida Probate Rules. Probate can occur both when a person dies with a will and when a person dies without a will.
Because of the complexity of the probate process it is very important that a Florida probate attorney understand the requirements set forth in the statutes and rules in order to make sure that the process goes forward as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.
WHAT IF SOMEONE DIES WITHOUT A WILL?
Someone who dies without a will in Florida is said to have died “intestate.” Probate on an intestate decedent still will be necessary in order to pay the decedent’s remaining debts and distribute the remaining assets of the estate to the decedent’s heirs. Florida’s “Intestacy Statute” (see FL Stat. Chapter 732.101-.111) sets forth the law of intestate succession in Florida whereby the decedent’s remaining assets are devised to the decedent’s heirs that are determined by and set forth in the statute.
WHAT IS FORMAL ADMINISTRATION?
Formal administration is the more complicated and time-consuming probate process that must be followed in cases where the decedent’s estate has a value of more than $75,000.00. The process begins with the filing of a Petition for Administration by a proposed personal representative (usually someone named in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament or, in the absence of a named personal representative, someone who is otherwise qualified to serve in this capacity) of the estate and continues through the conclusion of the estate.
The Conte | Trevett, P.L., probate attorneys assist clients throughout the formal administration process in a variety of ways including the following:
- Preparation and Filing of Petition for Administration With or Without Will.
- Secure Appointment of Personal Representative of the Estate.
- Identification of Estate Assets and Debt
- Publication of Notice to Creditors
- Preparation of Estate Inventory
- Determination of Elective Share for Surviving Spouse
- Resolution of Claims against Estate
- Distribution of Estate Assets to Beneficiaries
- Preparation of Final Estate Accounting
- Preparation of the Petition for Discharge of Personal Representative
- Closing Out the Estate
WHAT IS SUMMARY ADMINISTRATION?
Summary Administration is a much more simple and efficient probate option than Formal Administration. Summary Administration is available for estates with assets of less than $75,000.00 or where decedent died more than two years before Petition for Summary Administration is filed. A personal representative is not appointed in Summary Administration probate cases. Rather, after the beneficiaries and assets of the estate have been identified and the remaining estate debts have been paid the Court issues an Order of Summary Administration directing anyone holding estate assets to distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate.
WHAT IS ELECTIVE SHARE?
Under Florida law the surviving spouse a person who was domiciled in Florida at the time of his death is entitled to claim a portion of the decedent’s estate even if the surviving spouse was not included in the decedent’s will. This is known as elective share. According to FL Statute Chapter 732, Sections .201 through .2155 setting forth the law of Elective Share in Florida, a surviving spouse has the right to claim an amount equal to 30% of the decedent’s elective estate.
The law of elective share can be very complicated and oftentimes surprising not only to the surviving spouse but to other family members as well. The probate attorneys at Conte | Trevett, P.L., help clients deal with the many aspects of the law of elective share including the identification of all assets that are available to make up the elective estate.
At Conte | Trevett, P.L. we understand that the probate process can be very difficult, emotional and time-consuming for family members after the death of a loved one. Our attorneys are experienced in handling simple to highly complex probate matters involving estates of varying sizes. Regardless of the size of the estate, however, the attorneys at Conte | Trevett, P.L. are prepared to provide each client with steady, skilled and knowledgeable assistance in navigating the probate process from start to finish.