Nearly 20 Years of Experience Providing Personal and Professional Legal Support
Probate is something most people want to avoid at all times, especially after the loss of a loved one. Attorney Nicole Benjamin can help you navigate the probate court process in Florida and possibly reduce your chances of litigation. No estate is too small nor too big for our firm to handle, and all cases receive the same personal and professional attention. Attorney Benjamin has been practicing law for nearly 20 years, and she will handle all the legal jargon while you focus on your family.
Let Benjamin Law help you through the probate process. Call (407) 410-3850 or contact us online to learn more.
Property That Does Not Require Probate
Note that certain assets may not actually need to go through probate court to transfer to their new owners. For instance, the following kinds of assets do not require probate court approval:
- assets in a living trust;
- property held in joint ownership, where ownership will be transferred solely to the surviving member (there are two kinds – joint tenancy and tenancy by entirety for married couples);
- assets for which the deceased designated a beneficiary – payable-on-death (POD) bank accounts, transfer-on-death (TOD) brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance.
Probate may also not be necessary if certain final expenses (e.g., funeral expenses, medical costs within the last 60 days) are greater than the value of the property that would have gone through probate. However, this process is only appropriate if the deceased person did not leave any real estate and the only assets they left are exempt from creditors’ claims or don’t exceed the amount of final expenses.
If some form of probate court is required, though, it is possible to consider eligibility for a simplified procedure, or summary administration. This probate “shortcut” can be used if the death occurred more than two years ago or if the property that must go through probate is worth less than $75,000.
The process begins when the person named to be the executor through the will, or anyone who inherits property, files a Petition for Summary Administration. The surviving spouse, if any, must sign and verify the petition. The petition must list the deceased person's assets and their value, as well as who inherits which assets. If the court determines that the estate qualifies for summary administration, they may issue an order to relinquish the property to the rightful inheritors.
Formal Probate Court Proceedings
In some situations, though, formal probate may be necessary. Proceedings begin when the executor named in the will, or another interested party, asks to be appointed as personal representative of the estate, and beneficiaries and heirs will be given notice.
If the deceased person had a will, it must be filed with the court and proven valid by having the witnesses to the will give statements about its validity. Alternatively, if the will is "self-proving" (notarized), such validation will not be necessary.
Under the probate court's supervision, the personal representative will gather assets, pay leftover debts and taxes, and distribute what's left to the inheritors. Note that the personal representative must submit a final accounting to the court that shows:
- what the estate contained;
- how the assets have been managed; and
- the plan for distributing them to beneficiaries.
Anyone who objects to the accounting can object in probate court. The whole probate process typically takes half a year to one year, though this will depend on the amount of assets and how they need to be handled.
Questions About Probate?
Whether you are dealing with large assets or small estates, Benjamin Law will take care of you and your family. You are understandably going through a tough time after losing a loved one, and you should not be further overwhelmed by the legal jargon of probate court. Whether you are eligible to avoid litigation or need to proceed to probate court, Attorney Nicole Benjamin can help you.
Call (407) 410-3850 or contact Benjamin Law online for an initial consultation to get started.
“Attorney Benjamin is great at what she does, I’ve used her services multiple times and always get the result I’m looking for. Very professional and very sharp at her craft. I highly recommend her services...”- David B.
“Attorney Benjamin made me feel at ease during a time I felt uncertain by communicating and keeping me informed every step of the way. Attorney Benjamin was also very thorough and very professional.”- Will
“Very professional and gets the job with integrity! If you need an attorney who will help you, I HIGHLY recommend Attorney Nicole Benjamin. I am forever grateful to her and her staff.”- Phala