Estate planning documents such as wills and trusts are critical for ensuring that your assets are distributed as you wish after you pass away. But that distribution doesn’t happen automatically. There are people and processes involved to effectuate the gathering, transfer, and distribution of assets upon an individual’s death, whether or not the deceased left a valid will. That is what probate administration is all about.
At Farshchian Law, our Florida probate attorneys work with beneficiaries (i.e., heirs) and personal representatives to guide them through the many tasks and responsibilities involved with the Florida probate process. We combine our experience in probate matters with the personal attention that beneficiaries and representatives need during what can be a confusing and challenging time.
The Florida probate attorneys at Farshchian Law guide our clients through probate proceedings efficiently, thoroughly, and with clarity. We explain the process in clear terms so that the beneficiaries and personal representative understands what is happening, what needs to be done, and what to expect next.
We assist with preparing and filing the initial petition for administration, drafting other necessary documents with the probate court, advising the heirs and representative of the implications of certain decisions or actions, and distributing the deceased’s assets prior to closing out the probate estate. Our counsel focuses on ensuring that beneficiaries and personal representatives alike feel confident that the probate process will proceed according to the law and the deceased’s wishes.
The Florida Probate Process
Probate is a court process for identifying, gathering, and distributing an individual’s assets, transferring the title of the deceased’s assets to the heirs, and resolving any mandatory creditor liabilities. Probate is often required for people who die without a will to facilitate the conveyance of their assets under Florida’s laws of intestate succession. But even those who have a valid will may need to have their estate go through probate in order to pass ownership of any probate assets to their heirs and beneficiaries. We will help you identify those assets that need to go through probate and those assets that avoid probate. If conflicts or competing claims arise during the process, we will assist in resolving such disputes.
While probate is the court process through which assets are distributed, probate administration refers to the responsibilities involved in actually managing the process.
The key person in probate administration is the decedent’s personal representative (often called an executor in other states). This is the person or institution either named by a decedent or appointed by the court to manage the estate and guide it through the probate process. Individuals who can serve as a personal representative must be either a Florida resident or a spouse, sibling, parent, child, or other close relative of the decedent, even if they do not reside in Florida. An attorney, a trust company incorporated under Florida law, or a bank or savings and loan authorized to exercise fiduciary powers in Florida can also serve as a personal representative.
The scope of the personal representative’s responsibilities will depend on which kind of probate administration applies to the estate.
There are two types of probate administration under Florida law, depending on the nature, value, and location of the estate’s assets, as well as when the deceased passed away:
We also provide legal services when ancillary probate administration is needed. Ancillary probate administration is required when a non-Florida resident passes away while owning property in Florida and there are probate proceedings pending in another state or country. Ancillary probate can either be in the form of a formal or summary administration. There is also a short form ancillary administration process that is available if the deceased left a will and the property that they owned is valued at $50,000 or less.
In some cases, administration is not required at all. Also defined as “no probate,” disposition without administration allows a person to seek reimbursement of final expenses from the estate’s assets so long as the decedent did not own any real property that needs to go through the probate process, and the only remaining assets in the estate are exempt from claims by other creditors or do not exceed the total cost of the final expenses.
How We Help
Those charged with the responsibility of acting as a personal representative or petitioner of a probate estate must comply with a host of legal, ethical, and financial obligations, some or all of which may be outside of their knowledge and experience. While individuals entrusted with the fiduciary responsibilities inherent in probate administration almost always try to fulfill those obligations honestly and responsibly, they may lack the legal knowledge, resources, or administrative skills to do so.
That is why prudent probate representatives and petitioners so often work with experienced probate attorneys to help them fulfill their duties throughout the process. When you retain us to assist with probate administration, we take the burden and worry off your shoulders. Our comprehensive and efficient probate representation includes taking care of all matters that need to be addressed during the process, including:
- Gathering estate assets
- Identifying which assets must go through probate
- Drafting and filing the Petition for Administration
- Filing the Petition to Appoint the Personal Representative
- Drafting the estate’s inventory list, affidavit of heirs, Notice to Creditors, and all other required court documents
- Preparing disclaimers of interest in the property
- Evaluating any creditor debts or claims against the estate and paying off those that are legitimate
- Overseeing payment of funeral and related expenses
- Opening the estate’s bank account
- Managing the estate’s assets
- Facilitating the transfer of title after probate is complete
- Distributing the estate’s assets to the heirs pursuant to the deceased’s wishes
- Attending court hearings
- Locating next of kin
- Handling the sale of estate property
Farshchian Law: Experienced Florida Probate Attorneys
The death of a loved one is difficult enough. The last thing grieving families need during such a time is the burden of navigating an unfamiliar and intimidating court process. At Farshchian Law, our experienced probate attorneys take that weight off their shoulders, providing skilled, comprehensive, and compassionate counsel that will bring peace of mind and clarity to personal representatives and beneficiaries.