Understanding the Probate Process in Florida

What is Probate?

Essentially, probate is a court-supervised process required when an individual passes away leaving assets in their own name. The purpose of the probate process is to identify the assets of a deceased individual’s estate and distribute them to all the beneficiaries named in the deceased’s Last Will & Testament (assuming there is a valid Will), in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. 

If the deceased did not leave a valid Will, Florida’s intestacy laws dictate who is entitled to the deceased’s assets, including the order of preference of heirs.

Do I Need a Probate Attorney for a Florida Probate?

The short answer is Yes.

When a person passes away in Florida and there are assets in their individual name, a Florida probate may be required, and working with a qualified Florida Probate Attorney is crucial.

Though the shortened form of probate in Florida, called a Summary Administration, does not legally mandate hiring an attorney, it is highly recommended because Florida probate is a court process that requires compliance with various laws and court procedures. The main form of probate in Florida, referred to as Formal Probate Administration, always requires that an attorney be hired to handle the process.

At Farshchian Law, our attorneys are experienced in all areas relating to probate and can assist you with your probate case, regardless of how unique or complicated the matter is.

How Much Does Probate Cost and How Long Will it Take?

The duration and cost in Florida can vary substantially depending on a number of factors, including the complexity and value of the decedent’s estate, whether the decedent left a valid, original Will, and the location of real property owned by the estate.

Additionally, Will contests or disputes with alleged creditors over debts owed by the decedent’s estate can sometimes add to the fees involved to settle an estate.

Some typical expenses of an estate going through probate include attorney’s fees, court filing fees, executor (personal representative) fees, and accounting fees. Attorney’s fees for a Summary Administration are often charged on a flat fee basis, while a Formal Administration may have a fee structure that is based on the value of the assets.

Assuming there is no litigation involved and the probate is handled efficiently, Summary Administration estates are often settled in one to six months, while most Formal Probate Administrations are settled in six months to a year.

Can Probate Be Avoided?

Florida Probate is a timely and costly court process, which is why the first question most people ask is how to avoid it. The answer to that question is simple: proper estate planning. 

Ways to avoid the Florida probate process include placing property into a Florida revocable trust, creating a Life Estate Deed, or taking title as joint tenants with right of survivorship.

How Does the Florida Probate Process Work?

A Florida probate attorney will start by gathering the Will or trust (if any), as well as all the information needed to draft the documents that are required to open a probate case in Florida.

A Petition for Administration must be filed with the court detailing the facts of the case to the probate court. This filing must include the decedent’s name, address, date of death, as well as the names and addresses of all the beneficiaries, information about the estate assets, and a list of known creditors (if the deceased passed away less than two years ago).

If the decedent passed away less than 2 years ago, a Notice to Creditors for all unknown creditors may also need to be filed and published in a local newspaper, and all known creditors will be notified directly.

Other documents will often need to be drafted and filed with the court, including an Affidavit of Heirs and an affidavit to prove that there are no estate taxes due. The deceased’s death certificate will need to be filed with the court as well.

Any valid creditor claims must be settled. Once the probate is in its final stages, the probate attorney will submit an order to the court to transfer the deceased’s assets to the rightful heirs of the estate. Real property can also be sold during the probate process, or upon probate completion.

Contact An Experienced Florida Probate Attorney Today

Although probate may be a necessary step in the distribution of assets after a loved one passes, it can also be a daunting and complex process. In order to effectively navigate probate administration in Florida, including the process of selling real property during a probate, having an experienced Florida probate attorney by your side is crucial. 

Farshchian Law can help you navigate the Florida probate process and ease the burden on you and your loved ones. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (800) 604-1871, or email us at our secure online contact form. We handle probate and real estate matters throughout the State of Florida.