Probate, Wills & Estate Planning

Probate is the legal process whereby a deceased person’s last will and testament is “proved” in a court of law and so accepted as the true last testament of the deceased.

The probate process also involves officially appointing the executor or personal representative of the estate (generally named in the will), inventorying the deceased person’s property, resolving all debts and other claims, and properly distributing the deceased’s assets to heirs and designated beneficiaries according to the will. Note that any assets are first used to pay the cost of the probate proceeding then applied to outstanding debts, with the remainder distributed to the beneficiaries.

In the absence of a will, probate entails settling the estate according to the laws of intestacy in the state of residence [or real property ownership] of the deceased at the time of death.

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Good To Know

There are two types of probate administration provided for under Florida Statutes Chapters 731-735: Formal Administration and Summary Administration.

Formal Administration is the full, or “regular” probate proceeding. Summary Administration is a simpler option that is available if the decedent passed away more than two years ago or the total value of all probate assets is not more than $75,000. Probate assets are those owned in the decedent’s sole name at death, or owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners without a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death.

Probate filing procedures vary depending on whether the deceased died with or without a proper will. Additional considerations also arise if the estate involves homestead property and minor children.

When you and your family need to deal with probating an estate, we can provide efficient and cost effective assistance. Many of our probates are handled on a flat fee basis, and uncomplicated small estates can be filed and completed in less than thirty (30) days.

The team at Barry Miller Law can also provide expert legal assistance in drafting wills, living trusts, living wills and advance health care directives, and in handling all other aspects of estate planning.

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