The Florida Probate Process Demystified 

Losing a loved one is never easy, especially for those given the weighty task of serving as the personal representative (i.e., executor) of their estate. In addition to dealing with the repercussions of their death, you are responsible for navigating the complexities of the Florida probate process, the judicial procedure for distributing a deceased person’s assets. 

Although every probate case is different, the procedure may be stressful and time-consuming, especially for those unfamiliar with the court process. However, you will not have to face them alone: Farshchian Law, P.A. will work with you side-by-side to make the probate process go by quicker and more smoothly, and to help ensure that your loved one’s last wishes are fulfilled. 

Understanding the Florida Probate Process

When someone in Florida dies (known as the decedent), their assets—known collectively as their estate—typically must undergo probate, a court-supervised process that distributes their assets according to either the deceased’s Last Will and Testament or, if there is no Will, Florida intestate rules

The purpose of probate is reflected in its Latin roots, which means to “prove” or “examine,” referring to proving the existence of a valid Will to guide the process. That is why the probate process begins with the filing of the decedent’s Will with the probate court so it can be proven authentic and valid under Florida law. If there is no Will, what is proven is who the deceased’s heirs are per the Florida intestacy statute.

In a Summary Probate Administration (the shortened form of probate in Florida), there is no need to appoint a personal representative. In a Formal Probate Administration, the court will issue “Letters of Administration” to the person named in the Will as the estate’s “executor” or “personal representative.” This is the individual responsible for helping to manage and wind down the probate estate. (In the absence of a valid Will, which renders the estate “intestate,” the court will follow the default rules and appoint the decedent’s eligible next of kin to serve the role.)

The role of a personal representative is a demanding one: It includes identifying and gathering all assets of the estate—from real property and non-homestead real estate to bank accounts and life insurance policies—providing a clear inventory of the assets, identifying and notifying heirs, beneficiaries, and potential creditors or claimants, ensuring all taxes paid, and offering a final accounting of the estate. This is why it is crucial to work with an experienced Florida probate attorney to help you smoothly and successfully navigate the probate process.

Even when all the assets have been distributed and all outstanding debts and taxes paid, the personal representative must still file all receipts with the court and formally request a final court order to close the estate once and for all.

The Many Complexities of the Florida Probate Process

The Florida Probate Process is “administered” in several different ways depending on a range of factors, including the size of the estate, how long ago the decedent passed away, and even where the decedent passed away. 

The most common type of probate is “Formal Administration,” typically lasting at least six months to one year. “Summary Administration” is a comparatively faster process that pertains to smaller estates (worth less than $75,000) or cases where the decedent passed away over two years before the probate petition was filed. “Ancillary Administration” applies to non-Florida resident who died leaving assets in Florida.

Regardless of how it is administered, the probate process must conform to the Florida Probate Code, which requires certain procedures and documents. As the personal representative or petitioner of the estate, you will be required to file certain forms, provide specific documents and evidence, and handle disputes that may arise among or between the beneficiaries, creditors, or third-party claimants. Thus, it is strongly advised to work with Florida probate lawyers who have expertise and experience in this specialized area of law.

Work with the Probate Experts at Farshchian Law, P.A. 

Our experienced Florida Probate Attorneys are here to make the probate process stress-free and efficient so that assets can be distributed to the estate’s beneficiaries as quickly as possible. From preparing the required probate pleadings and affidavits to helping with the distribution of assets and settlement of estate debts, Farshchian Law’s probate attorneys handle every aspect of the probate process from beginning to end.  

While every probate case is different, our dedication to personalized service, attention to detail, and zealous representation remain the same. 

To learn more about our probate services, or to schedule a FREE consultation, please call us at (800) 604-1871, or email us using our secure online contact form. We handle probate, real estate, and estate planning matters throughout the State of Florida.