Orlando FL Probate Attorney

Navigate Probate with Confidence 

Probate is a legal process that happens after someone dies to ensure their assets are distributed correctly. That includes validating their will, settling debts, and distributing remaining assets to the rightful heirs. Having the help of an Orlando FL probate attorney can be very helpful due to the complexity and time-consuming nature of the probate process.

Understanding probate, its types, and the roles of those involved can make dealing with a loved one’s estate easier. This article will equip you with the knowledge to confidently move forward.

Quick Summary:

  • Probate in Orlando settles a deceased person’s estate through a court process.
  • The court confirms the will’s validity, pays debts, and distributes assets to heirs.
  • Probate protects assets and ensures proper distribution according to the will.
  • There are three main types of probate in Florida, depending on estate size and complexity: Formal Administration, Summary Administration, and Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration.
  • Typically, the probate process in Orlando wraps up within six to twelve months.  The exact timeframe can vary depending on the specifics of the case and any complications.

Is Probate Necessary?

Although probate may seem like a hassle, it aims to protect the deceased person’s assets and ensure the heirs’ best interests are looked after. During probate, the court checks if the will is authentic and follows the law. After this, the estate can be divided and given to the heirs and beneficiaries named in the will.

Probate can be complex, expensive, and time-consuming, often prioritizing debt repayment over inheritance distribution.

Good estate planning can often reduce the need for probate. However, many still deal with their inheritances being stuck in a complex and confusing legal process that feels beyond their control.

What are the Assets That Don’t Go Through Probate?

Many of the deceased person’s assets can be transferred to their new owner without probate court involvement. Common types of non-probate property include:

  • Property held in joint tenancy, such as a house owned by a couple or a shared bank account
  • Assets with a designated beneficiary, such as payable on death (POD) bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance proceeds, or real estate in a transfer-on-death deed
  • Assets held in a living trust

Probate can be avoided entirely if all the deceased person’s assets fall into these categories. If other property remains in the estate, further steps will be necessary.

What are the Types of Probate?

In Florida, there are two main types of probate: formal administration and summary administration. There’s also a less common, non-court-supervised option called “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration,” which only applies in specific situations.

Probate only deals with “probate assets,” which are assets owned by the deceased and do not transfer to someone else upon their death. Probate is necessary to transfer assets to beneficiaries and settle the deceased’s financial matters.

Formal Administration

Formal administration is needed if the estate’s value exceeds $75,000 or if the deceased has been dead for less than two years. This process involves many steps with specific deadlines and requires an attorney for the personal representative. It takes at least three months but can extend to several years, depending on the estate’s complexity.

Summary Administration

Summary administration is a simplified probate process available for many Florida estates. This option can be used if:

  • The death occurred more than two years ago, or
  • The value of the probate estate (excluding non-probate assets) is $75,000 or less.

To start summary administration, the executor or any property inheritor must file a “Petition for Summary Administration” according to the will. The surviving spouse, if any, must sign and verify the petition. If any beneficiary does not sign the petition, they must be notified the petition has been filed. 

The petition must state that the estate qualifies for summary administration, list the deceased person’s assets and their value, and specify who inherits which assets.

In this process, the court does not appoint a personal representative (executor or administrator) for the estate. Instead, if the court determines the estate qualifies for summary administration, it issues an order releasing the property to the inheritors. This court order can be used to prove to entities, like banks, that you are the rightful heir to the deceased’s assets. 

Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration

In Florida, probate might not be necessary if the estate has very few assets. An alternative called “disposition without administration” can be used if:

  • The deceased person didn’t own any real estate, and
  • The only assets in the estate are:
    • Exempt personal property includes household goods up to $20,000 in value, two vehicles, 529 and qualified tuition plans, and certain teacher retirement benefits.
    • Personal property up to $1,000 in value (which is exempt from creditors under Florida law)
    • Personal property valued at no more than $10,000, plus final expenses including funeral costs up to $6,000 and medical expenses from the last 60 days of the deceased person’s final illness

Additionally, if the deceased person did not leave a will (died intestate), the estate must meet these other conditions to qualify for disposition without administration:

  • The deceased person must have been dead for more than a year, and
  • There must be no pending probate proceedings in Florida. 

With this process, no property needs to go through probate. Instead, you can request payment of what was left to you in the will or what you’re entitled to by law by filing the “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration” form. 

This form is available from the court clerk and on many Florida circuit courts’ websites. You’ll need to list all the deceased person’s property and its value. There is a filing fee, so check with the court for the exact amount.

You must attach a certified copy of the death certificate to your request. If there is a will, it must be filed with the local circuit court. You might also need to provide more documents, such as an itemized funeral bill, medical bills, and documents related to the account from which you’re seeking funds.

What are the Steps of the Probate Process in Florida?

The probate process in Florida involves several steps to ensure that the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their will or state law if there is no will. Here is an overview of the steps involved:

  1. Filing the Petition
  • Start Probate: The process begins by filing a petition with the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived.
  • Petition Types: Different petition options are available, depending on the size and complexity of the estate.
  1. Appointing a Personal Representative
  • Appointment: The court appoints a personal representative (executor) to manage the estate.
  • Duties: The personal representative manages the estate’s assets, debts, and distribution to beneficiaries.
  1. Notifying Interested Parties
  • Notice of Administration: The personal representative must notify beneficiaries and potential creditors about the probate proceedings.
  • Creditor Notice: This notice gives creditors a deadline to file any claims against the estate.
  1. Inventory and Appraisal of Assets
  • Inventory Filing: The personal representative must file an inventory of the estate’s assets with the court.
  • Appraisal: The assets are appraised to determine their value.
  1. Paying Debts and Taxes
  • Settling Debts: The personal representative uses the estate’s assets to pay any debts and taxes the deceased owed.
  • Final Tax Returns: File the final income tax returns for the deceased and the estate.
  1. Distributing the Estate
  • Distributing Assets: After debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as specified in the will or by Florida’s intestate succession laws if there is no will.
  • Final Accounting: The personal representative must provide a final accounting to the court and the beneficiaries detailing all transactions conducted on behalf of the estate.
  1. Closing the Estate
  • Court Approval: The court reviews the final accounting and issues an order to close the estate if everything is in order.
  • Release of Liability: The personal representative is released from their duties, ending the probate process.

How Long Is the Florida Probate Process?

While probate in Orlando usually wraps up within six to twelve months, the exact timeframe can vary depending on the specifics of the case. Unforeseen complications, like will contests, can lengthen the process compared to a typical situation.

Why Do I Need an Orlando FL Probate Attorney?

You may need a probate attorney in Orlando, Florida, for several reasons:

  1. Legal Experience:
  • Knowledge of Probate Laws: Probate attorneys are well-versed in Florida probate laws and procedures, ensuring the probate process is handled.
  • Complexity of Probate: Probate can be complicated, especially for larger estates or those with unique circumstances. An attorney can navigate the complexities and help you understand your rights and obligations.
  1. Representation in Court:
  • Court Proceedings: During probate, an attorney can represent your interests in court and help resolve any possible disputes.
  • Legal Advocacy: An attorney can advocate for your interests and protect your rights throughout probate proceedings.
  1. Compliance with Legal Requirements:
  • Meeting Deadlines: Probate involves strict deadlines for filing documents and fulfilling legal requirements. An attorney can ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed and on time, preventing delays in the probate process.
  • Avoiding Errors: Mistakes in probate proceedings can have serious consequences. An attorney can help you avoid costly errors and ensure the probate process is carried out.
  1. Estate Planning Advice:
  • Future Planning: Probate attorneys can provide valuable estate planning advice to help you plan for the future. They can help draft wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out.

Hiring a probate lawyer in Orlando, FL, ensures the efficient, effective, and compliant handling of the probate process. If you’re dealing with legal issues or need support, an attorney can provide the help and advocacy you need during this challenging time.

Call Our Orlando FL Probate Attorney Now!

The probate process in Orlando, Florida, can be confusing and stressful. Are you dealing with wills, estates, or family disputes? Get legal guidance.

Tejes Law, PLLC knows the ins and outs of probate in Florida, and our goal is to take the weight off your shoulders during this challenging time. Our Orlando legal team can guide you through the process, ensuring your loved one’s belongings are treated respectfully.

Don’t be afraid to contact Tejes Law for a free consultation. Call our law firm today and feel confident that your probate issues are in good hands. We’re happy to answer your questions and guide you through probate.

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