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Compassionate, Experienced Guidance Through The Probate Process

When a person dies, what happens next? Sometimes, the probate court will need to be involved; sometimes, it won’t. Whether probate is necessary and what kind of probate is needed is best answered by a probate attorney. In Florida’s Treasure Coast region, you can find the help you need at Erin Kirkwood Law, PLLC.

Probate Requirements Depend On The Existence Of A Will

If a person dies without a will (referred to as dying intestate), Florida law designates who inherits, and a probate case will usually need to be opened. The type of probate and the cost depends on how much property the person owned. If a person dies with a will, probate is sometimes necessary as well. If there are no disputes amongst family or others, probate usually does not require anyone to physically go to court. Attorney Erin Kirkwood will guide your family through the process and file all the necessary paperwork.

Get Help With Out-Of-State Probate

Out-of-state relatives needing to probate their parents’ assets in Florida, and others whose loved one only owned one piece of property in Florida, need help to get through the probate process. This type of probate is called “ancillary probate,” and because of its complexity, it is something you should let a lawyer do for you.

Depending on the assets and whether there is a contested will or other disputes between heirs and beneficiaries, ancillary probate will follow summary or formal administration. Attorney Kirkwood will review the details and explain which process will apply to the estate in question.

An estate can get through summary administration in as quickly as a few weeks. Formal administration tends to take longer because there are more assets involved and there may also be debts or disputes to settle.

Call the firm if you have questions about how an attorney can get your loved one’s Florida estate through the ancillary probate process.

Frequently Asked Questions About Probate In Florida

Below are some of the most common questions that people have about the probate process here in Martin and St. Lucie Counties:

How long does the probate process usually take in Florida?

In Florida, it typically takes anywhere from six months to a year to settle the average estate. This includes ancillary probate proceedings, which are necessary when someone regularly domiciled in another state has certain probatable assets in Florida, such as a second home. When estates are large and complex, or there are disputes between beneficiaries and heirs, probate can go on for several years.

What are the steps in the probate process?

Generally, the probate process starts when a petition is filed with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. The court will then typically affirm the validity of the will (if there is one) and appoint a personal representative (executor) to manage the estate. The personal representative will then:

  • Secure and inventory the deceased’s assets
  • Notify the deceased’s creditors and beneficiaries
  • Pay the decedent’s final debts and taxes
  • Distribute the remaining assets
  • Do a final accounting and close the estate

Unfortunately, each of these stages has many steps, and there is a lot of potential for complications. Early attorney involvement reduces the chance of a critical error in the probate process.

What is the difference between summary administration and formal administration in Florida?

Summary administration, per Section 735.201 of the Florida Statutes, is a simplified probate process that’s only available to smaller estates valued at $75,000 or less or estates of any size where the decedent has been deceased for more than two years. Formal administration is the traditional probate process, and it involves more court oversight.

What should I do if I am an out-of-state relative and need to start the probate process in Florida?

An experienced Stuart Probate attorney can help you start the ancillary probate process, file the necessary paperwork with the local court within the proper time frame, take steps to secure the deceased’s assets and represent your interests in court.

Speak With A Skilled Probate Attorney About Your Legal Needs

Erin Kirkwood Law, PLLC, is based in Stuart and serves clients throughout the surrounding areas of Florida. To take advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with Erin, contact the firm online or call 772-732-8863.