Orlando Probate Lawyer

Guiding Clients Through Probate for 25+ Years

At Jackson Law, we assist our clients with every aspect of probate, from guiding the executor of the estate through the proceedings to representing surviving family members in probate litigation, to implementing estate planning strategies that can be used to avoid probate altogether. Under the terms of the Florida Probate Code, the estate of a person who has died with or without a will must pass through the process of probate.

Why Choose Jackson Law?

  • 75+ Years Of Combined Experience
  • Legal Services Available In English, Spanish & Portuguese
  • We Promptly Reply To All Calls & Emails
  • Full-Service Representation Delivered To Each Client
  • Our Legal Team Is Top-Rated & Highly Successful

Contact us online or call (407) 477-5046 for a case evaluation with a skilled probate attorney in Orlando. Se Habla Español.

About Probate

Probate is the legal process used to distribute the assets of a decedent's estate after he or she dies. The court decides whether or not the will is valid, helps to identify and inventory the estate's assets, has the property in the estate appraised, sees to it that any debts or taxes owed by the estate are paid, and oversees the distribution of all remaining property as the will directs, or if there is no will, as state law directs.

Probate involves three major actions:

  1. Identifying and gathering the assets of the decedent
  2. Rendering payment to satisfy debts owed to the decedent's creditors
  3. Distributing the assets remaining to the beneficiaries of the estate

With the help of Jackson Law, we can help you with matters involving:

What Are The Advantages of Probate?

While a large percentage of people who come to our office do so with the intention of keeping their estates out of the probate courts, this is not true of everyone. There are, after all, certain benefits to probate.

When a loved one dies, something must be done to make sure all of the affairs that the deceased has left behind are managed. Probate may also be necessary in cases where one wishes to transfer assets from the deceased's name to another beneficiary. In the state of Florida, the individual's estate has the discretion to choose how affairs will be handled. This is done by creating a will.

Probate gives you the opportunity to challenge a will that you believe your loved one may have drafted while not of sound mind or while under the undue influence of a person who did not have their best interests at heart. Additionally, taking the estate to probate means that the decedent's creditors will have only three months to pursue claims against the estate, after which their claims will be forfeited under Florida law.

Importance of a Will

The process of creating a will begins with the person who is filing on behalf of his or her estate. This must meet all of the requirements under Florida law to be valid, and should be signed by the individual and witnesses. The will contains directives, such as who is the personal representative of the will and which beneficiaries will be expected to receive assets and properties. The individual may also use the will to establish a trust. Without a will, Florida's probate law will take precedence over who will be the beneficiaries and how assets may be distributed.

What Are Some Disadvantages to Probate?

Many of our clients come to our Orlando probate attorneys with questions concerning how to avoid probate. There are many reasons for this:

  • Probate can be highly expensive in terms of court costs, and these costs are to be paid to the court before the beneficiaries of the will receive anything in terms of an inheritance.
  • The same is true of debts, which must be paid prior to distributing any assets to the beneficiaries.
  • Probate will often leave little or nothing to the surviving family members. This is a great concern to our clients who want to make sure that their loved ones are able to enjoy the full benefit of the fruit of their lifelong hard work.
  • Depending on the complexity of the case, probate can take anywhere from a few months to an average of 12 to 18 months or even longer
  • The proceedings in a probate case become a matter of public record, thereby exposing certain information concerning the estate and your personal affairs to public scrutiny.

Does All Property Have to Go Through Probate When a Person Dies?

Actually, all property of the decedent does not have to go through probate. Some property passes outside of the will, such as if a decedent owns a home with a spouse, and the property was held as joint tenants by the entirety. In such case the home passes automatically to the surviving spouse by operation of law, in other words, nothing extra has to be done. The property is merely deemed by law to be the sole property of the surviving spouse upon the death of the other spouse.

Who can be a personal representative?

A personal representative can be a bank, an individual, or a trust company. An individual who is a resident of Florida, a spouse, a brother or sister, or another close relative can also serve as a personal representative.

Why does a personal representative need an attorney?

In most cases, a personal representative must be represented by an attorney due to the legal issues which may arise during the pendency of probate, and the Court will order that a personal representative retain an attorney. If the will directs that a certain attorney is used, the personal representative is not bound by that direction. Also, it is important to understand that the attorney for the personal representative does not represent the beneficiaries under the will. The attorney only represents the personal representative to help carry out his or her duties.

Talk to a Probate Lawyer Today (407) 477-5046

If you need guidance in planning your future, turn to a probate lawyer at Jackson Law PA. We are ready to answer your questions. Continue reading below on how to avoid probate.

Related Reading about Probate

Jackson Law PA offers counsel for all probate matters in Florida. We work hand-in-hand with you to reach your goals. To get started, call us today for a case consultation!

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Strategies for Avoiding Probate

Probate does not apply in all cases. For example, assets that are held jointly by a husband and wife will pass directly to a surviving spouse and will not be subject to probate. It is also possible to sidestep the requirement of probate entirely by establishing a trust. Items that you deposit in the trust leave your personal estate and are no longer legally yours.

You can arrange the trust in such a way that you will still maintain control and possession of the assets. According to Florida laws regarding probate, at the time of your passing, items in the trust will not have to pass through probate prior to being distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust, since probate only applies to those assets and debts that are in the name of the estate.

To learn more and find out how our probate lawyers can help, contact (407) 477-5046.