Estate administration and probate litigation in Florida can be intimidating. Whether you are planning your estate for the benefit of your family, administering the estate of a loved one, or challenging the way an estate is being handled, understanding the probate process can be overwhelming.
Navigating probate is less stressful when you hire competent attorneys in the first place. They will take the time to explain what probate means, and guide you through the legal process. Our firm ensures that your loved one’s last wishes are upheld, and can represent you in Court if there is proof that someone is not handling an estate or trust administration properly.
What is probate?
During probate, the court oversees the administration of an estate after an individual passes away. This requires the gathering of information, including the following:
- Whether or not there is a valid will
- Existing assets
- Outstanding debts and taxes
- Who is named/eligible to handle the estate
- Beneficiaries and distributions
After an assessment of the estate, the court confirms the distribution of assets to the proper beneficiaries. In cases of disputes over estates, the right attorney knows the legal system and will fight for the proper outcome.
What types of probate exist in Florida?
There are different probate processes in Florida that depend, primarily, on the value of an estate:
- Abbreviated. For smaller estates, there is a shortened probate process. While it does typically take less time, the abbreviated probate process is generally only for estates valued under $10,000.
- Summary. Those estates that do not qualify for abbreviated probate but are valued under $75,000 may qualify for a summary administration. This process allows distribution of assets according to the decedent’s will. Summary administration may also be available if it is more than two years since the individual passed away.
- Formal. Estates valued over $75,000 will typically go through the formal probate process. The court will appoint a personal representative to oversee the process.
- Estate and Trust Litigation. Questions may exist over the proper execution of a will or trust, or a fiduciary may be acting in bad faith or self-dealing. This type of litigation requires court intervention prior to the distribution of assets.
It can take several months or more to complete probate. The process ensures the proper disposal of all outstanding debts and that assets of the estate go to the correct beneficiaries. In Florida you must use the services of an attorney to handle probate and estate administration.
Often, there are disagreements between the actual heirs/beneficiaries, and those who believe they are heirs/beneficiaries. Probate litigation is a highly-specialized area of law and the attorneys at VanNess & VanNess, P.A. are proficient in this type of litigation.
If you have questions about the probate process, are named by a decedent as a personal representative or trustee, or have concerns that a loved one’s last wishes are not being honored, call our attorneys to discuss your particular situation today.