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Probate 101: The Step-By-Step Process

Probate is the process of executing someone’s last will and testament. It ensures the decedent’s (the person who passed away) wishes are carried out as stated in their will. Probate is a complex and time-consuming process, so working with an experienced probate attorney is important to guide you through the proceedings. Here’s how the probate process works in Florida: 

Petition and Eligibility 

Not every asset in your estate goes through probate. Probate is required for assets that don’t have a secondary owner or a “payable upon death” or “transfer upon death” beneficiary designation. Items placed in a trust also don’t need to go through probate. Florida law requires estates that enter probate work with a probate attorney. 

The probate process officially begins when the personal representative brings official documentation, such as the death certificate and the will, to the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. Once the documents are submitted to the court, a probate judge will determine the will’s validity. Once the will is validated, the personal representative is given legal authority to execute the will and manage the estate. 

Notification

A Notice of Administration will be issued, which marks the official start of probate. Then, beneficiaries listed in the will are notified that probate has begun. If a beneficiary or family member disagrees with what’s stated in the will, they can formally contest (or challenge) it.

Potential creditors who could have a claim against the estate will also be notified that probate proceedings have begun. The personal representative must inform creditors in a public announcement, which can be done by placing a notice in a local newspaper. Creditors have 90 days after the Notice of Administration is published to file a claim against the estate to collect on an outstanding debt. 

Value the Estate and Asset Liquidation 

The estate must be valued to confirm there are enough funds to satisfy valid creditor claims and pay beneficiaries. The personal representative gathers the decedent’s belongings and financial assets to determine an estate value. Money from bank accounts and any sold assets are placed in an estate bank account that the personal representative establishes. 

Division of Assets to Beneficiaries 

Once all creditor claims are settled, beneficiaries are given assets as specified in the will. Beneficiaries can’t receive any assets until after the creditor claim period has passed and creditors have been paid. 

Petition of Discharge

The probate process ends after the creditor claim period, and assets have been distributed to beneficiaries. A probate attorney will then submit the necessary documentation to the probate court to attest that the estate was executed correctly. If the court is satisfied with the estate’s execution, the probate judge will sign an order of discharge, officially concluding probate.

Daytona Beach Probate Attorneys: Every & Stack 

Estates that go through probate are required to use a probate attorney in Florida. If you’re a personal representative or drafting your will, it’s important to work with a probate attorney you trust to guide you through the probate process. Contact our Daytona Beach law office at 386-255-1925 to discuss your case. 

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