What Is A Probate?
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Probate is the process by which a decedent's Last Will & Testament is authenticated by the court, the decedent's creditors are paid and the remainder of the estate is distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries, all under the supervision of the probate court. If someone dies without a Will, their estate is distributed to their heirs under intestate succession which is outlined in the Florida Statutes.
Florida law allows for an abbreviated probate process for estates valued at less than $75,000. This process is called a Summary Probate Administration. For estates larger than $75,000, a Formal Probate Administration is required.
Following are the steps that are typically required in a Formal Probate Administration:
1. Authenticating the Last Will. If the decedent passed with a Last Will, the court will admit the Will to probate.
2. Appointing the Personal Representative. The Judge will appoint a Personal Representative to oversee the probate process and settle the estate. The Personal Representative is usually named in the decedent's Last Will. Under Florida law, the Personal Representative must be a blood relative or Florida resident and may not have a felony conviction on their record.
3. Locating the Decedent's Assets and Determining the Values. The Personal Representative's job is to gather and protect the decedent's assets. Date of death values for the assets can be determined either through account statements or by obtaining an appraisal of the asset.
4. Identifying Known Creditors. The Personal Representative must identify and notice all of the decedent's known creditors. In addition, a Notice to Creditors must be published in the newspaper to put unknown creditors on notice that the decedent has passed. Once the creditors have been identified, all valid claims must be paid. This includes the decedent's final income tax return.
5. Distributing the Balance of the Estate to the Beneficiaries. Once all the creditors and taxes have been paid, the Personal Representative distributes the remaining assets in the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will or to the heirs of an intestate estate.
For assistance with probate administrations, contact the Law Offices of Jacobs & Jacobs, P.A. to schedule an appointment in our Vero Beach or Port St. Lucie office. Let our family help your family.