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Probate & Trust Administration

Probate & Trust Administration
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What If There Is No Will?
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Florida Probate Process

Probate Lawyer in Fort Myers

When someone passes away, their property needs to be properly administered through a process called probate. The probate process involves gathering the assets of the deceased person, called the decedent, and then paying their taxes, claims and expenses before distributing the remaining property to beneficiaries. Probate assets are property owned solely by the decedent at the time of death which has no provision for automatic succession of ownership after the passing of the decedent. The state of Florida has had probate laws since achieving statehood in 1845, and currently uses the Uniform Probate Code, an act used in 16 states that standardizes the probate process.

Types of Probate in Lee County, Florida

There are three types of probate in the state of Florida: formal administration, summary administration and family administration. Formal administration probate takes the longest time to complete and is the most common process. The first step of formal administration probate is filing a Petition for Administration with the Circuit Court. After the petition is filed, the court will admit the will, if there is one, and appoint a personal representative to administer the estate. If an estate does not exceed $75,000 or two years have elapsed since the decedent has passed, the estate may be available for small estate probate, which takes less time and is cheaper to complete. If the decedent left only personal property that is not worth over $60,000 to a surviving spouse and/or lineal descendent, then the estate may be eligible for family administration probate.

In addition to these court-ordered forms of probate, Florida residents may also be eligible for Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration, a non-administration proceeding also referred to as small estate affidavit. A Circuit Court Judge presides over probate proceedings, which may involve a number of people, including the Clerk of the Circuit Court, a personal representative and the Internal Revenue Service.

The Importance of Having a Valid Will

If you would like to determine how your property will be distributed after you pass away, it is important to have a valid will. In the state of Florida, a valid will is a document that meets a variety of legal requirements including being signed by the decedent and witnesses. This document can select future heirs and their inheritance, appoint a personal representative and establish a trust. If you die intestate, or without a valid will, your property will be distributed according to Florida intestate laws. A Fort Myers probate attorney can draft a will and create a trust to protect your loved ones today.

The Rights of Surviving Family Members

Although it is possible for a decedent to disinherit potential beneficiaries, the surviving family may have rights under the law. A surviving child may be entitled to a share of the property, for example, even if he or she was left nothing in a valid will. If you did not sign a valid prenuptial or post nuptial agreement with a Florida homestead waiver and marital elective share waiver, then you have homestead rights and martial elective share, which is 30% from your late spouse's share. Although this may seem simple, it is not and should be discussed with a Fort Myers probate attorney to ensure that the matter is handled properly.

Seek Experience You Can Trust in Fort Myers, FL

The Dorcey Law Firm, PLC assists a wide variety of clients with their probate matters. If you are currently serving as a personal representative of a late loved one's estate, we understand that financial matters may be difficult to handle right now and we can walk you through the probate process. Additionally, our firm can assist you with estate and trust litigation if you believe an aspect of the probate process was not carried out correctly or assets were incorrectly handled.

Whatever your probate needs, you can trust that our firm will patiently listen to your case and provide you with excellent counsel. Contact our firm to learn more about the benefits of hiring an experienced Fort Myers probate attorney or complete a free case evaluation for information about your legal needs.

dorcey law firm
The Dorcey Law Firm, PLC - Fort Myers Attorney
Located at 10181 Six Mile Cypress Pkwy, Suite C, Fort Myers, FL 33966
Phone: (239) 330-6674
Local Phone: (239) 418-0169