In Florida, all probate proceedings are filed with the clerk of the circuit court, usually with the help of an attorney. If you need to file a probate case, contact a lawyer about the forms you will need to begin the probate process. Keep in mind that you will need to file your case in the county where the decedent lived at the time of their death.
Meeting with a local attorney is the first step to probate in Florida. Your lawyer will help you file your case, adhere to the Florida Probate Code, and navigate the entire legal process from start to finish.
How Soon Do I Need to File?
If your loved one left behind a will, the custodian of the will must deposit the original copy with the clerk of the court within 10 days of the death. From there, the decedent’s personal representative or executor must pay a filing fee and submit the correct forms to open a probate matter.
During the probate process, the personal representative will carry out the will and wind up the decedent’s financial affairs. In total, the process takes 6 to 9 months, so the sooner you file, the sooner the decedent’s beneficiaries will inherit.
Do I Have to Deal with Probate Administration by Myself?
No. Many people are involved in the probate process, including the attorney you choose to represent you. Your lawyer will provide legal advice and services throughout the probate process, and a circuit court judge will preside over probate proceedings.
The circuit court judge is responsible for assessing your qualifications as a personal representative and resolving any questions or disputes that arise while you administer the probate estate.
Probate is a court-supervised process regulated by Florida law, so you will be far from alone during the probate process, especially when you have a lawyer by your side to help you navigate the relevant statutes and procedures.
Do I Have to Go Through the Probate Process?
In most cases, yes. Probate is necessary for identifying and gathering your loved one’s assets, paying their final debts and assets, and fulfilling their last wishes as communicated in their will. If your loved one did not leave behind a will, probate is even more important because it is the only way the decedent’s assets will be distributed to their heirs.
Florida law allows formal administration and summary administration (an expedited version of the probate process). Rarely, personal representatives can wrap up the decedent’s estate with a non-court supervised administration proceeding called, “disposition of personal property without administration.”
To find out which version of probate is most appropriate in your specific situation, you should speak to an attorney.
Florida Courts Help and other self-help resources are limited when it comes to probate, so you should get in touch with a lawyer as soon as you learn of your loved one’s death.
Dorcey Law Firm is here to help you. We have strong roots in Fort Myers and surrounding areas and take pride in representing local families through generations. Not only are we your neighbors, but we also pride ourselves in giving you high-value legal services and results for the money you pay.
Going through probate is never easy, but we can make serving as a personal representative less challenging.
Call us at (239) 309-2870 or contact us online for legal help throughout the probate process.