The Probate Process in Florida

Let an Orlando Probate Attorney Guide You Along the Way

When you have lost a loved one and are now facing the prospect of probate, it is very much in your best interests to hire an Orlando estate planning attorney to guide you through the process and work to protect your personal interests. Your lawyer can take measures to expedite the process so that you are not subjected to unnecessary delays in receiving your share of the estate. Additionally, your attorney can represent you in litigation in the event that disputes arise over the validity of the will. If you have been appointed as personal representative of the estate, also referred to as the executor of the will, a lawyer can help you ensure that you are carrying out the necessary steps in the proper manner, and defend you against allegations of breach of fiduciary duty. Come to Jackson Law for help from a team with 30 years of combined experience in estate planning and probate law.

What to Expect During Probate in Orlando

To provide you with a better understanding of the process and to help you prepare for the experience, our Orlando probate attorneys offer this brief overview of how probate works under Florida law. At the beginning of the probate process, it is necessary to file the will, along with certain additional documents and a fee, with the clerk of the local circuit court. The court then appoints a personal representative to oversee the case and to carry out the terms of the will, when one exists. In cases in which there is a will, the personal representative is the executor named in the document, whereas in cases of intestate succession, where there is no will, the personal representative is appointed according to the terms of state law. The personal representative is charged with several duties in the administration of the estate. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Conducting an inventory of all of the assets of the estate
  • Performing a valuation to determine how much the individual assets, and the estate as a whole, are worth
  • Publishing a notice to creditors in the local newspaper as a formal alert that creditors who have an interest in the estate should now take action; after three months have passed since such publication, creditors who have not filed claims forfeit their right to pursue payment
  • Searching for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors in order to alert them of the fact that they have only a limited amount of time to file a claim against the estate
  • Issuing a notice of administration to inform any who might have an interest in the estate that the estate is currently in probate and of the procedures that interested parties must follow in filing objections
  • Paying the claims of creditors, when these are proven to be valid, and contesting claims that appear to be invalid
  • Paying taxes that may be due, such as the federal estate tax, and filing income and estate tax returns
  • Paying court costs
  • Distributing the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries designated in the will, as well as according to the state laws concerning inheritance rights of surviving spouses and children

Probate Litigation and Defending Against Claims of Misconduct

In the performance of any of these functions, the personal representative of the estate is liable to be accused of legal violations or breach of fiduciary duty. When this happens, whether you are a beneficiary of the will or the personal representative, it is important to have an experienced Orlando probate lawyer on your side to defend you against the allegations. In order to prevent such an outcome, it is wise for the personal representative to hire legal representation at the outset of the process, to provide legal guidance and defense. Find out more about the process of probate and begin preparing for your own case by contacting us now for an initial consultation.

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