What Actually Happens During The Probate Process In Florida?
During the basic probate process, under formal administration, begins with the filing of a petition. Once that paperwork is filed, there may or may not be a hearing. If a hearing is held, the court will appoint a personal representative to represent the estate. The court may appoint several personal representatives to act together. Once a personal representative has been appointed, they will begin taking an inventory and determining what debts and creditors exist, and will then publish notice to any of those potential creditors, and liquidate assets to satisfy those creditors.
Once the assets have been distributed to the creditors and all the creditors are satisfied, any of the remaining assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries based on the order of priority listed in the will. In the event that you don’t have a will, distributions will be based on the order of priority listed in the intestacy statute. Once those assets have been distributed, there is a final accounting and inventory, and then the estate is closed out.
A summary administration, for estates valued at less than $75,000, has a more expedited and abbreviated process. The person filing for summary administration will need to file all of the petitions and documents that a judge would need to see in order to be able to make a ruling, all at the same time. Then, the order that a judge can use to make a ruling will need to be filed. Assuming all documents were filed correctly, the judge should issue an order granting summary administration. At that point, all of the assets designated in that drafted order are transferred without any further action needed.
Can Someone Realistically Navigate The Probate Process On Their Own Without An Attorney?
The State of Florida has decided that in a formal probate administration, you are not allowed to represent yourself without the assistance of an attorney. The formal administration process is complex. There are different documents that have to be filed at various times. Accountings and inventories need to be taken and certain communications need to be made. The court and the state find it very important that there is a qualified attorney advising a personal representative on the actions to take. However, with a summary administration, it is possible (though not advisable) to deal with probate without an attorney. There tends to be a lot of errors when people try to do summary administrations on their own. Even in the summary administration process, where it’s fairly simple, it is not as simple as it seems. The cost of an attorney is well worth it. The important thing is to find an attorney you can work with, who understands and is willing to work with you, not for you.
It is our goal to always make sure that people are taken care of and to explain the things that are happening, not just do things for our client.
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