Probate Of Estates
If someone dies while owning assets held in his own name, the estate will have to go through Probate if he or she had a Last Will & Testament. If there was no Will, the estate will go through Estate Administration which is essentially the same process as Probate only without a Will.
Probate means "prove the Will." The lawyer handling the estate must file the original Last Will & Testament with the Court along with a certified death certificate and several other papers signed by the Personal Representative (Executor) of the Estate along with a filing fee. The court process of Probate or Estate Administration will normally take between six months and a year because of legal requirements in Florida including the requirement to advertise the estate for the benefit of creditors.
The lawyer handling the matter will normally be paid for his time based upon an hourly rate and all expenses of the estate must be reimbursed to the lawyer. The Personal Representative, otherwise referred to as the Executor in other states, is permitted to be paid a fee of 3% of the value of the estate under Florida law. Any costs or fees that the Personal Representative incurs must be reimbursed to him or her before any of the beneficiaries are paid their share.
The Personal Representative (Executor) is required to take an Inventory of all of the decedent's assets and file that Inventory with the Court with a copy to be provided to the beneficiaries of the estate. The Personal Representative must supervise the selling of any real estate and all other property so that all of the assets are converted to cash. This makes it easy to distribute cash to the heirs or beneficiaries at the conclusion of Probate or Estate Administration. The Personal Representative must also obtain signed releases from each of the beneficiaries to close the estate.
Because this is a complicated legal proceeding it is wise to meet with a lawyer who has years of experience in the probate process. Please call me to set-up an appointment for a conference to discuss this matter if there has been the death of a family member or friend. Please call (561) 863-9962 to schedule an appointment.