Answered by a Fort Myers Probate Lawyer
If you recently lost a loved one, their estate will likely have to be probated
in order to pass ownership of the assets to the beneficiaries named in
the will, or in the absence of a will, according to Florida's intestate
Probate is a complex, court-supervised process which involves a number of steps
and procedures. Since most people are unfamiliar with probate, our Fort
Myers probate attorney has created a list of frequently asked questions
and answers to help clarify the process. With
over 2,400 clients served, and as proud
members of the WealthCounsel, you can confidently contact The Dorcey Law Firm, PLC for further information.
What is probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process where a will is validated, a personal
representative is appointed, and the decedent's debts and taxes are
paid. Once this is completed, the remaining assets are distributed to
What is a personal representative?
The personal representative is a person appointed by the court to settle
the decedent's estate and wind up his or her affairs. In other states,
a personal representative is referred to as an "executor."
What happens if I die without a will?
Dying without a will is called dying "intestate." An estate has
to be probated, even if there is no will. In such cases, the decedent's
assets will be distributed according to Florida's intestate succession laws.
Why is probate necessary?
Probate is an important process because it ensures that a decedent's
debts and taxes are paid, and that ownership of their assets pass on to
their beneficiaries. Without probate, interest in an estate cannot pass
to the beneficiaries.
Will Florida get my estate?
Very rarely is an estate turned over to the state of Florida. Even if a
decedent passes without a will, the estate will be distributed to his
or her closest living relatives, and if there are no close relatives,
it will be passed on to more remote relatives. Only in cases where there
are no relatives will the assets be turned over to the state.
Do all assets pass through probate?
Only probate assets owned in the decedent's name alone pass through
probate. There are several types of assets that are not subject to probate,
including: assets held in a trust, bank accounts with beneficiary designations,
and life insurance policies with beneficiaries, and retirement accounts etc.
Where do I file probate papers?
The necessary documents such as a will, if any, are filed with the clerk
of the circuit court. A probate proceeding is usually opened in the county
where the decedent lived at the time of his or her death. Once opened,
the court judge presides over the probate proceeding.
Who serves as the personal representative?
If the decedent left behind a valid will, the judge will appoint the person
named by the decedent to serve providing that person is qualified and
accepts the appointment. If there is no will, the decedent's surviving
spouse has the first right to serve as the personal representative, otherwise
the decedent's heirs can select someone.
Request a free consultation today!
Personal representatives should always retain a qualified attorney to assist
them in the administration of an estate. Many legal issues arise even
in the simplest of cases; they are unfamiliar to non-attorneys and can
be difficult to navigate without professional assistance.
The Dorcey Law Firm, PLC to learn about our services for personal representatives. In a free case
evaluation, we can answer your questions and help you gain direction in