Probate is the process of settling the estate of a deceased individual, which includes the payment of their debts and distributing assets to the beneficiaries as outlined by the deceased before their death. The process is relatively complicated, which means it needs to be followed closely, so that beneficiaries inheriting assets will not have to deal with any future legal claims from others. The process starts with the creation of a will and this can be overseen by a representative of our law firm.  A personal representative will be appointed by the Court and given the responsibility of effecting the directions set forth in the will.

The Personal Representative

A will typically includes a provision naming the personal representative. The personal representative is often the surviving spouse or a trusted family member or professional. 

Filing For Probate

Any creditor or estate beneficiary can commence an estate administration. The court will likely appoint the person named in the will as the personal representative.  If there is no will or it has been lost, the Florida statutes identify priorities for appointment of the personal representative.  In the event someone dies without a will, and there are assets within Florida, Florida law establishes the heirs of the estate. The property has to be distributed, so the law has made provisions to make distribution upon an individual’s death. 

The Probate Process

The probate of an estate is supervised by a Circuit Court Judge.  Notice of the administration must be given to all creditors and interested parties, and the assets owned by the Decedent marshalled.  The personal representative is obligated to file an Inventory and an Accounting on behalf of the estate.  Thereafter, a plan of distribution is prepared for review and approval by the Judge.

Do You Need A Lawyer?

In most probate cases, you need a lawyer to complete the process in a way that is legally efficient and timely. The only time an attorney is not truly needed is when the assets are modest in amount This is referred to as “Summary Administration".  Even if an attorney is not required in these cases, the probate process has many rules. These rules can be frustrating to someone who is trying to work within the law without an attorney and without a legal background. The end result can be a number of concerning pitfalls, which can result in beneficiaries having to deal with creditors and not getting their full inheritance. In the end, legal assistance is worthwhile for matters of this nature.

Contact A Boca Raton Probate Lawyer

If you need to probate an estate or you are in a situation where you need to dispute an issue with respect to the administration of an estate, the lawyers of our firm can help you. To learn more about how we can help, call us at 561-361-9600.