The last thing that anyone wants to go through during the grieving process is legal matters. However, that is sadly what many families have to contend with. It is important to be aware of financial and legal matters after a person dies. Having an understanding of the probate process can ensure that you don’t get caught out. In this guide, we will let you know all of the basics of the probate process.
Definition of Probate
To get things started, let’s firstly define what probate actually entails. A probate is a legal process of administering a person’s estate after their death. If you have a will at the time, then the process is usually more simple, and it will involve making sure that the will is legally valid. We highly recommend having a clear will in place since it reduces disagreements between family members and makes inheritance go smoothly. Without a will, the distribution of a will would be dedicated by a probate court.
Key Terms Involved in Probate
Below are the common terms that are usually involved in the probate process.
Decedent: The deceased person
Executor: The person tasked with carrying out the will
Notice of Probate/Notice to Creditors: The notices that the executor must provide to heirs and creditors.
Probate Court Process in Florida
The probate process itself works slightly differently, depending on the state. In Florida, it is known as a formal administration. The proceedings begin when the executor asks the circuit court to be named as the personal representative of the state. Any beneficiaries and heirs are given sufficient notice for the court hearing, which is usually held in the same county where the deceased resided. The court will then issue letters of administration, which gives personal representative authority to settle the estate. If a Will is present, it will need to be proven as valid, and this may involve taking witness statements.
The court will then provide supervision for the personal representative to check inventories, value assets, and pay off any debts or taxes. A financial account will be submitted to the court to confirm these transactions. This will confirm asset management and go through how the beneficiaries will divide them. Once everything is distributed, the personal representative files receipts with the course and formally asks for the estate to be closed. The entire process can usually take six months to a year.
The fees depend on the value of the estate. Anything up to $40,000 can cost $1500. From $40,000-$70,000 the fee rises to $3000. Florida is a state where these statutory fees are generally fixed and proportional to the value of the estate.
Do I need a Probate?
Not everyone will require probate, and in certain instances, it can be wise to skip it entirely. You should consider the fact that probate can be a lengthy and sometimes expensive process. There is an alternative, which is the Florida small estate affidavit. It can be used where a deceased person passes away with $75,000 or less in assets. This option is more simple, and it allows you to avoid going to a probate court.
Aside from being simple, skipping probate also means that beneficiaries can usually get access to funds more quickly. It is more straightforward, and you will avoid probate court fees and executor fees. Additionally, the process can be kept entirely private, whereas probate would always be visible in public records. Wills can make your intent clearer, and it signals your wishes in a way where they are less likely to be any serious disagreements. Your personal family situation and financial situation will dictate whether probate would be the best option. Regardless of which option you prefer, it is vital to plan ahead.
You should now have a much idea of what is involved in the probate process. Your specific situation will determine whether probate makes sense or not. It is always a good idea to plan ahead for the future to avoid any disagreements that may arise. If you have any questions about probates, then feel free to contact us, and we will be more than happy to advise you. We can tell you which options make the most sense for your specific situation and requirements.