Understanding the Florida Probate System

About the Florida Probate Process

Probate, simply put, is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property either through a will or without one.

In Florida, the probate process can be cumbersome and confusing, but with good legal counsel the process can be smoother.

At any level, the primary steps in the probate process include:

  1. Identification and review of the will and gathering of all known assets.
  2. Drafting and executing the “Petition of Administration” which gives a representative the power to legally act for the estate.
  3. Pay off any debts to creditors.
  4. Identification of taxable (or probate) assets and filing of the decedent’s final tax return.
  5. Closure of the Estate and disbursement of assets based on the will or if no will is present, based on the state laws.

The probate process and Florida’s probate statutes are complex and there are many nuances which can greatly affect the amount of taxable assets and the length of time that an estate stays in probate.

About Probate Litigation

To further complicate matters, disputes over the estate often arise requiring the need for probate litigation. Probate litigation covers several situations, including:

  • Will contests, where someone claims that the person who wrote the will did not know what they were doing because of diminished mental capacity or that someone else made them do a will that didn’t comply with their wishes
  • Claims against executors and administrators for mishandling estates or estate assets
  • Claims against trustees for mishandling trust assets

It goes without saying that probate litigation matters often pit family member against family member and can easily become highly emotional for both parties. In these situations, having an attorney that is skilled at probate litigation but is also empathetic can help resolve the situation without further driving a wedge between family members.

Our Capabilities

While probate is a court process and you must have a probate lawyer, probate and probate litigation processes are not just about the legalities of dispersing the estate; but are also about working with the grieving families, understanding their situation, and helping them make the best possible decisions quickly and efficiently. Our job is to guide clients through this process, resolving any issues that come up, and ultimately to make sure that the desires of the deceased are carried out.

If you are in need of a probate or probate litigation attorney, call us at 954-670-2800 or use the contact form.

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