Understanding Florida Probate Administration
It is not uncommon for a loved one or relative to die intestate (without a will). Unfortunately, when estate planning does not occur prior to one’s passing, relatives must prepare for probate administration. Despite its necessity, probate is not straight-forward. However, there are tips and strategies our attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group can provide to expedite the process. We are here to answer any questions you may have.
How Can You Prepare for Florida Probate?
You can prepare for probate by gathering important financial and business documents, including copies of the decedent’s end of life wishes or instructions, if any. You will need to obtain a copy of the decedent’s death certificate (the more copies the better), copies of financial and bank statements, credit card statements and any other liabilities existing such as mortgage or car loan still outstanding. It is also helpful to compile a list of all potential beneficiaries or named persons in a will, a copy of the will if one exists, and a list of personal effects, furnishings, vehicles and real property owned.
During the probate process, all potential beneficiaries must receive written notice of the action in the mail. There are also special rules regarding the notification of creditors so that they can make a claim against it. One item that the probate process does not handle is life insurance, but you must call the adjuster or insurance company to start that process of obtaining life insurance distributions. If your loved one received social security or Medicare benefits, those entities will also need to receive formal notice of death so payments can be stopped. Finally, there are other items to be squared away like cancelling of utilities, forwarding mail, pet care and cancelling health insurance. Any legal document your loved one signed or completed is relevant to probate including a divorce judgment, prenuptial agreement or copies of trust agreements.
Opening the Estate
Florida Probate Rule 5.030 states that an estate that goes through probate almost always requires the appointment of an attorney. This is because it is a complicated process that can be compounded without proper guidance, research and preparation. The first step is to gather all financial documents including a list of assets and liabilities, then filing a Petition for Administration form with the county of jurisdiction. Probate allows assets to flow from the decedent’s estate to the estate’s beneficiaries if they have not been named in a will or if the decedent died intestate after creditors are paid. Probate also winds up a decedent’s financial affairs and obligations so the estate can close.
Contact the Tampa Probate Lawyers at Strategic Counsel Law Group
If you are intimidated about Florida probate administration or have questions about what is necessary, our team has the answers. Our Tampa probate attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group provide tailored guidance to clients throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. While you may be concerned about winding up your loved one’s estate, or possibly avoiding unnecessary fees or fines, our attorneys will review your case and identify the best strategy for efficiently completing the probate process without hiccups. If you are unsure about how to proceed next, or whether your loved one’s estate is insolvent, we can help you determine your options. Call our Tampa probate attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group today to schedule a consultation.