Requirements of the Florida Probate Process
Probate administration is the process, supervised by the Probate Court, of identifying, gathering, and distributing the assets of a deceased person, or decedent. Probate is a complex area of the law, and in Florida, probate can be even more complex than in most other states. Formal administration of a Florida estate typically takes about a year and complex administration can last much longer. For some smaller estates, a simpler, summary administration process is available, but even this type of probate usually requires a lawyer's help.
The personal representative of the decedent's estate is responsible for managing the affairs of the estate. In Florida the probate process is a formal legal process. The probate court may appoint as personal representative (sometimes called executor in other states) the person named in a will, or a person selected by the court if there is no will. Among the many tasks that must be performed in connection with the estate are:
- Identifying, valuing, and safeguarding estate assets
- Identifying and notifying heirs
- Identifying and notifying creditors and evaluating the validity of their claims
- Publishing all legally required notices
- Managing the assets and paying debts of the estate
- Preparing and filing income, estate, and gift tax returns of the estate
- Making distributions to heirs
- Making required reports and providing accountings to the court
- Closing the estate
Failure to perform these tasks correctly, or in a timely fashion, can result in liability for the personal representative and a drawn-out probate process, which leads to increased costs and may needlessly consume estate funds.
Adding to the challenges of probating a Florida estate is the fact that many Florida residents moved to the state in later years, and do not have their chosen personal representative living nearby when they pass away. Often, in this case, a grieving personal representative is contending not only with unfamiliar probate laws and requirements, but the challenges of managing those requirements remotely.
Guiding Families through Florida Probate Administration
At the law office of Lisa Jo Spencer, P.A., we want to make the probate process easier for you, so you can spend time thinking about your loved ones and memories, not worrying about the probate process. Whether you reside in-state or outside Florida, we can provide whatever level of support you need to probate a Florida estate with a minimum of stress. Probate has been a major part of Lisa Jo Spencer's practice for many years.
We will walk you through the process, beginning with an assessment of whether your decedent's estate needs probate administration, and if so, what type. We perform an analysis of the decedent's property and debtor issues. At all times, our goal is to reassure you that you will be supported throughout the probate process.
In addition to years of experience with probate administration, we are also well-versed in probate litigation. This means we understand where probate cases often run into trouble, and how to prevent them from doing so.
The law office of Lisa Jo Spencer, P.A. handles cases mainly in Okaloosa, Walton, Santa Rosa and Brevard Counties. To learn more about the probate process in Florida or the services we offer, please contact our office at (850) 226-4998 to schedule a consultation.