If a person residing or owning in property dies and leaves assets behind, their estate will go through the probate process. The probate process can be complicated, depending on the size of the estate and whether the decedent had a will. However, an attorney with experience in probate administration can help walk you and your loved ones through the process.
How does the probate process work?
The Florida probate process can be complicated, but these are the main steps in the process.
File for probate and notify beneficiaries
Generally, a person appointed as personal representative of the estate, along with an attorney, will gather up the decedent’s records to file with the court. These documents may include:
- Decedent’s will
- Property titles and deeds
- Financial records
- Debts owed by decedent
- Insurance policies
Once the representative files a petition of administration with the court and the will is accepted into probate, the representative will notify the decedent’s beneficiaries. This may include anyone who may be entitled to receive assets from the decedent’s estate.
Pay off creditors and taxes
Next, the probate court will issue letters of administration, which will allow the representative to open an estate account. Then, creditors will be notified of the probate proceeding and will be allowed to file claims to recover debts. The administrator of the estate will then pay off the debts or dispute them.
After the debts are paid, the decedent’s assets in their name can be sold and the proceeds will go into the estate account. Taxes will be paid and each beneficiary will receive an accounting of the estate.
Distribute the assets
Finally, a plan for the distribution of assets will be implemented and if the beneficiaries agree to it, the decedent’s remaining assets will be distributed in accordance with their will. If there is no will, the property will be divided in accordance with intestate laws. The estate proceedings will then be closed by the court and the process will be deemed complete.
An attorney specializing in estate planning can help with the complexities of the probate process.