Elder Law & Special Needs Planning
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Probate is a legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are properly distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries under a Will. If there is no Will, the assets would be distributed as per the State's intestacy statute. The court oversees the estate to make sure debts are paid and a proper distribution of assets is made.
There are three types of probate proceedings in the State of Florida
Formal administration is necessary when probatable assets $75,000, and/or when it is necessary to appoint a representative to act on behalf of the estate. Probate assets do not generally include homestead property if left to a qualifying beneficiary. Other assets not generally counted include jointly owned assets, accounts with a beneficiary designation, and retirement accounts/life insurance with designated beneficiaries.
At the time of appointment, Letters of Administration are issued to the personal representative by the Court giving him or her the authority to complete the administration of the estate. The Court oversees the administration of the estate to ensure the decedent’s debts are paid and that correct distribution to the heirs and/or beneficiaries. The Personal Representative must be a Florida resident or a blood relative of the deceased.
Formal administration proceedings are initiated by filing a petition requesting the appointment of a personal representative. The attorney for the personal representative prepares and files the petition and other required documents. The appointed personal representative is then responsible for the estate, paying all debts of the decedent and distributing the balance of the estate to the rightful beneficiaries.
Formal administrations generally take anywhere from six months up to several years and beyond depending on the complexities of the situation. Taxable estate are generally open longer as well as those involving litigation.
A summary administration may be filed when the value of the entire estate subject to administration does not exceed $75,000. A Personal Representative is not appointed in a summary administration.
A Petition for Summary Administration can be filed by any beneficiary or nominated personal representative in the decedent’s will, or by an attorney representing that petitioner(s).
Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration
A Disposition of Personal Property without Administration may be filed to request release of the deceased's solely owned assets to reimburse the person who paid the final expenses; funeral bills, medical bills for the last 60 days, etc. This procedure may be accomplished with the filing of an informal petition. The limit is $6,000. The Disposition form and instructions are available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court website.
I'm sure you've heard the horror stories about probates dragging on for years, or spouses had no access to assets locked up in probate. Proper planning can prevent these worst case seniors. A good probate attorney can also make a difficult probate a much simpler process. We generally try to help clients avoid probate, but every situation is different and probate can be the best way to distribute assets. It is especially true when you have blended families who do not trust or get along with each other.
Please give us a call at (727) 586-4224 if you have any questions or need assistance with a probate.
The Parri Law Firm