An Overview of the Florida Probate Process

If you have had a loved one pass away recently, you may have been named in their Will or other legal document as a beneficiary of their estate. In order to actually get what was left to you, however, it may be necessary to go through the probate courts. The probate process serves to determine who is legally entitled to what and will settle the estate by allocating assets to pay off debts before distributing all remaining assets according to the wishes of the deceased.

Filing the Will

If you are holding the Will for your loved one, you are legally required to file it with the local circuit court right away. You have 10 days from the time you learn about the passing of your loved one to file it, so don’t delay. If probate is required, the court will then determine the validity of the Will and you can proceed with probate as required.

What Doesn’t Go Through Probate?

Not all assets have to go through the probate process, and anything that can skip probate should be pulled aside. Any property that is held in joint tenancy is the biggest example of something that can skip the probate process. This means that if a husband and wife jointly own their home together and the wife dies, the home doesn’t have to go through probate. It will simply pass on to the husband. This applies to joint banking accounts, vehicles, and many other assets.

Anything that is held in a living trust will also pass on to the beneficiary without having to go through probate. There are a variety of types of trusts that can be used to avoid probate including firearms trusts, certain charitable giving trusts, special needs trusts, and more. Having the ability to avoid probate is one of the many benefits of a good living trust.

Determining Assets

During the probate process, the courts will identify any assets that need to be handled. This can be a time consuming and difficult process in many cases since people often build up significant assets over the course of their life. Tracking everything down so that it can be dealt with is one of the most important tasks of the probate courts.

Distributing Assets

Once all the assets are identified, the courts will review all claims made against the estate. Claims can be filed by any creditor such as credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, taxes due, medical bills, and much more. The personal representative of the estate and the courts will work together to distribute the estate assets in order to satisfy the valid claims. Everything left over will pass along to the individuals as identified in the Will. If there was no Will, the probate court will try to distribute assets to the closest next of kin under the  law of intestacy.

Don’t Go Alone

Probate court is a complicated and often very time-consuming experience that you don’t want to face on your own. If you have recently had a loved one pass away and will need to deal with probate, please contact ProActive Legal Care to get the legal representation you need to protect your interests in the estate.

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