Probate is the court-supervised process of administering a deceased person’s will. Although probate sometimes leads to litigation, the majority of probate cases are purely administrative. In other words, in most cases, the court simply supervises the probate process to ensure that the law is followed and that the wishes of the deceased party are honored. In this article, we review the steps in the Florida probate process.
File the Petition
The first step in the Florida probate process is to file a Petition for Administration in the circuit court of the county where the deceased individual lived at the time of his or her death. The petition must include various additional documents, including the deceased person’s will. Following this filing, the court will issue a Letter of Administration. Among other things, this letter will name the personal representative of the estate. In addition, as a part of this process, all legal heirs and named beneficiaries will receive notification of the opening of the estate.
Provide Notification to Creditors
Before assets can be distributed to beneficiaries, creditors of the estate must receive payment. However, to be paid, creditors must file a claim with the estate. To ensure creditors have a chance to file claims, the personal representative must provide notification to creditors that the estate has been submitted to probate.
Inventory the Estate
The next step in this process is for the personal representative to inventory all of the estate’s assets. A key aspect of the process is valuation. It is usually easy to value liquid assets, such as bank accounts. Other assets, however, may require professional assistance.
Close the Claims Period and Pay Claims
Next, the estate’s personal representative pays out valid creditor claims. Following payment to creditors, the personal representative pays any estate taxes that are owed.
The last major step before asset distribution is to file the accounting with the probate court. The accounting details the value of all estate assets, all claims paid, and all estate expenses and costs. The personal representative is also expected to provide records supporting the accounting. Before moving forward with asset distribution, the court must approve the accounting.
Distribute Assets and Close the Estate
Finally, once the court has approved the accounting, the personal representative distributes the remaining assets pursuant to the terms of the will. After distributing all assets, the personal representative is required to file a petition with the court requesting that the estate be closed.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
For assistance navigating the probate process in Florida, please contact the Law Office of Angela Siegel. Ms. Siegel has decades of experience helping clients with their probate needs. So, when you contact us for assistance with the Florida probate process, Ms. Siegel will put her experience and knowledge to work for you. Please contact us today to arrange an initial consultation with our talented probate attorney.