How Do I Probate a Will in Florida?

Gavel on Desk

Probate A Will In Central Florida

Upon your death, you leave behind an Estate. This consists of all of your assets, such as your money, property, and possessions. However, it also includes debts, such as expenses and unpaid taxes.

After your death, someone needs to assume control of your Estate and settle your outstanding affairs. This Personal Representative, or Executor, guides your Estate through what is known as Probate.

Probating a Will

Probate in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Orlando or any other part of Florida is a court-supervised process. Probate wraps up all of your financial affairs following your death. The proceedings take place in the state where you were living at the time of your death. Your estate may undergo Ancillary Probate, more than one Probate process if you owned property in more than one state at the time of your death.

Your choice of Executor must be approved by the court upon your death. Your choice is generally only turned down if there is some issue with you, or your nominated Executor fails to meet certain state guidelines. Should your Will not name an Executor, or that Executor cannot serve, the court appoints an Administrator to settle your Estate and follow the terms of your Will.

Myths About Wills And Probate In Florida

  • MYTH: Estate Planning is for the rich.
    • FACT: Anyone who owns property or has minor children needs a Will to avoid being subject to the intestacy laws of their state of residence.
  • MYTH: If I die with no Will, everything goes to my spouse.
    • FACT: This is not always true, and can lead to great confusion among spouses, children, and children from previous marriages.
  • MYTH: Having a Will means avoiding Probate.
    • FACT: All Wills are subject to Probate, in which the court determines whether the Will is valid. The process of probating a will can take several months and be quite expensive. There are other ways to avoid Probate, such as establishing Trusts.
  • MYTH: Wills or Living Trusts handle all issues.
    • FACT: There are many issues that need be handled once Wills or Living Trusts are defined such as the re-titling of property. Living Wills, under Florida Will Law, can also be subject to contest like any other Legal Wills.
  • MYTH: You are responsible for the debts of a deceased parent.
    • FACT: Generally, children are not responsible for debts of parents. Even spousal obligations may be limited.

Seek A Good Florida Probate Attorney

While no state requires beneficiaries or survivors of a Decedent to retain a Probate Attorney, doing so can mean the difference between retaining the rightful amount of family assets and losing them. Also, lay people attempting to navigate Probate Law without the assistance of a Probate Law Firm run the risk of making a mistake for which they are personally liable. One omission from standard operating procedure can freeze the entire process.

While many people may believe that probating a Will is as simple as filling out some forms and handing them to the Clerk of the Court, it isn't that easy. In fact, more than likely you will need to hire a Probate Lawyer if you wish to Probate a Will in Central Florida. That's because courts in Florida are very specific and require all documents to be accurately completed with the necessary legal terminology and other specific requirements in order for a will to be considered legal and valid. One simple error or omission can invalidate a Will.

Can I Probate a Will Myself?

You may be able to probate a will in Florida yourself in the case of disposition without administration. However, this is only valid when the deceased individual left assets of very little value and you are the sole person who paid the final expenses (funeral, costs related to illnesses, etc.). Another case in which a sole individual can Probate a Will in Florida is when he is the only interested person claiming the inheritance. It is important to note that there may be other people and/or entities interested in a portion of the Estate without the Claimant’s awareness. For instance, if the deceased person was a debtor of a particular financial institution or bank, the institution would have an evident interest in the estate. Medicaid which is considered a class 3 creditor may also be entitled to a portion of the Estate. Since Probate is not always as simple as it may seem and because unexpected claims on the estate can arise at any time during the process, it is highly recommended to hire an experienced Probate Attorney, such as Jerry B. Wells, PL.

Is there a Deadline to Start Probate?

Although there is no concrete deadline it is important to start Probate as soon as possible since the process can become more costly and difficult if left unattended for too long. There may be bills that will need to be paid from the estate and if you delay Probate and bills pile up the Estate may not have enough funds to settle its claims. Also, there are instances where there will be more than one Probate Administration before the current heirs receive any assets from the Estate.

Why Hiring a Probate Lawyer in Central Florida is the Best Decision

Even in cases where the law doesn't require the hiring of a lawyer to Probate a Will the process and legal requirements in Florida are overwhelming. Also, court clerks by law are unable to dispense any legal advice and cannot guide you in the process. Therefore, to ensure a timely and accurate disposition of an Estate in Daytona Beach, Orlando, Bunnell, Palm Coast, St. Augustine, or anywhere in Central Florida, your best option is to contact an experienced Probate Lawyer like Jerry B. Wells, PL.