What is Probate?

Here’s a nutshell explanation of Florida probate administration:

  • Probate administration is a court process.
  • Assets are collected, creditors are paid and beneficiaries receive whatever remains.
  • Assets = Real Estate or Personal Property
  • Two kinds of “Probate”: Summary & Formal Administration
  • The existence of a Will does not eliminate the need for probate
  • In Florida, “Personal Representatives” are in charge of “probating” the estate
  • Personal Representatives must have attorney representation (attorneys do most of the work)
  • Most probate cases are filed by mail with telephone hearings (so your attorney does not have to be in the county where probate is required)

Probate Procedure

Florida Probate Law is more than just an exercise in form filling. There are rules and procedures that must be followed or the clerk and the court may stonewall your progress. Most people do not even think about the probate process until they find they cannot access assets of the decedent. Additionally, real estate cannot be sold, transferred, insured, leased/rented until the property is put through probate court.

Is Probate Necessary?

Often, there are alternatives to probate depending on how assets were held and titled. There are also opportunities for reimbursements instead of inheritances if reimbursement will suffice. The question usually turns to “what kind of probate is really necessary”?

When to File Probate

There is no statute of limitations on when probate must be administered. However, once probate is initiated, there are many deadlines and formalities to be addressed.

How Long Does Probate Take?

The answer is never “overnight”. Depending on the type of probate administration and court response times, probate may take just a few weeks or several months. As you might imagine, litigated estates may take years to close. However, in uncontested matters, there are still many steps that must be taken. Failure to complete any of the critical steps can add significant delays to a probate proceeding. We find that most Summary Administration cases can be completed between 1 to 4 months. Formal Administrations tend to complete within 7 to 9 months. Note that during Formal Administration, there are many out-of-court concerns that must be accomplished such as securing assets, addressing creditor claims, liquidating assets, preparing final tax returns, and preparing formal accountings. Efficiency is key in probate administration.

Epperson has collective years of experience to help you with Probate related cases. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.