Older couple sitting together working on estate plan

A Compassionate Probate Law Firm Handling All Types of Probate Estates in Florida

If you’re in charge of handling a probate estate, you may know that there are many legal, ethical, and financial obligations that come with the job. Sometimes, these obligations can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with them. 

Even if you research your duties as best as possible, you might not have all the knowledge, resources, or skills needed to handle probate administration. That’s where we come in! As experienced probate attorneys, we can help you fulfill your duties and take the burden off your shoulders. 

When you work with us, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re in good hands. As an experienced estate law firm, we have seen firsthand how complex and emotional the probate process can be for families dealing with losing a loved one. 

That’s why we specialize in providing compassionate legal guidance to help you navigate through the intricacies of Florida’s probate law. 

What is Florida Probate Law?

Probate is the legal process of administering the assets of a deceased. It involves identifying and gathering their assets, paying off any debts or taxes owed, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. The probate process can be lengthy and complicated, especially if there are disputes among family members or creditors.

It’s important to note that not all assets have to go through the probate process. Assets that are jointly owned or designated with a beneficiary, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts, typically avoid probate. However, assets solely owned by the person who died, such as real estate or bank accounts, will likely have to go through probate.

How Does The Florida Probate Process Work?

After you’ve understood what probate means, the next step is understanding how the probate administration process works.

The main person in charge of managing the estate of the deceased is the personal representative (sometimes known as an executor in other states). This could be someone specifically named or appointed by the court. The personal representative must be a Florida resident or a close relative, even if they don’t live in Florida. It’s also possible for an attorney, trust company, or bank to serve as the personal representative. 

Depending on the type of probate administration needed, the personal representative’s tasks may vary. There are two types of probate administrations in Florida: 

The first one is summary administration. Summary probate administration is a simpler and quicker version of probate that’s designed to transfer assets to beneficiaries after someone passes away. This option is only available if the estate’s value (minus exempt property) is below $75,000 OR if the deceased passed away more than two years ago. Exempt assets include homestead property (i.e., the deceased’s primary residence) and are not included in the $75,000 test. Therefore, a homestead property can be worth several million and still be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate via a summary administration if the rest of the estate’s assets are less than $75,000.

The second type of probate in Florida is known as a formal probate administration. A formal probate administration is often initiated when the assets of a deceased’s estate (not including homestead property) exceed $75,000, or when the deceased passed away more than two years ago. Formal administration is also often used if there are multiple beneficiaries, creditor issues, or where the estate intends to engage in litigation (such as a wrongful death lawsuit). 

Either type of probate administration in Florida is best handled with a proficient attorney who can collaborate with the estate’s personal representative and beneficiaries to guide them through this process.

How Can You Avoid Probate?

If you are a beneficiary of an estate, you may be wondering how to avoid the probate process. There are several estate planning devices that are used to avoid the probate efficiently.

Here are a few examples: 

Beneficiary Accounts

These are financial accounts or insurance policies where the owner can appoint someone to receive their assets after death. Types of accounts where may have the option to designate a “payable on death” beneficiary include life insurance policies, bank accounts, and retirement accounts.

Joint Tenancy With Rights Of Survivorship

This co-owning property method allows the surviving owner to have absolute ownership upon the other owner’s death without the need for probate. It can be used for both real and personal property. 

Joint ownership between spouses is called a “tenancy by the entirety” and is also used as a way to protect marital assets from the creditor claims of one spouse. 

Adding adult children as joint owners is also common to transfer property automatically upon death. A licensed Florida real estate attorney should be engaged to handle the deed transfer Lto ensure all legal formalities are followed.

Lady Bird Deeds

A Lady Bird Deed (also known as an Enhanced Life Estate Deed) is one way for a property owner to transfer their property to a loved one after death while maintaining control during their lifetime. With this type of deed, the beneficiary automatically inherits the property without any lengthy legal processes. 

Creating a Lady Bird Deed requires a deed transfer and some legal know-how so it’s always best to have a skilled Florida real estate attorney assist in the process.

Living Trusts

Living trusts allow an owner to pass assets on to their beneficiaries while also avoiding probate. Assets such as real estate, vehicles, intellectual property, and financial accounts can be placed into a living trust. Unlike wills, living trusts do not become public record since they are not filed with the court.

Hire An Experienced Naples Probate Lawyer

Navigating through Florida’s probate process can be overwhelming, especially during a time of grief. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced Naples Probate Lawyer by your side to provide legal guidance and support. 

We specialize in handling all types of probate cases and providing compassionate legal representation to our clients. Our Naples probate lawyers will work closely with you to understand your unique situation and develop a personalized legal strategy that best meets your needs. 

To schedule a free consultation, call us at (239) 935-8599, or email us at our secure online contact form.

Probate FAQs

Do I need a lawyer for probate in Florida?

While it’s not required to have a lawyer for a summary probate administration, it’s highly recommended. The process can be complex and confusing, especially for those unfamiliar with the legal system. A formal administration in Florida does require the hiring of an attorney.

An experienced Naples attorney can provide legal guidance and support throughout the probate process, ensuring that your rights are protected and your interests are represented.

How much does it cost to go through probate in Florida?

The cost of probate in Florida varies depending on the complexity of the estate and the fees charged by the personal representative and the lawyer. Generally, the expenses can range from a few thousand dollars (for summary administrations) to tens of thousands of dollars (for formal administrations). 

It’s important to clearly understand the fees and costs associated with probate before starting the process. We will lay out the fees clearly to you in the beginning, so you know what to expect.

To schedule a free consultation, call us at (239) 935-8599, or email us at our secure online contact form.