Probate administration is the legal processes by which a person’s assets are distributed after death. Generally, it is a good idea to attempt to minimize what must go through a legal probate process. This can be done using estate planning tools like trusts, wills and other vehicles. However, there are instances when probate is unavoidable. Our attorneys and staff at The Law Offices of Justin B. Stivers LLC are able to guide you throughout the process.
Beginning the Probate Process
The first step in the probate process is to open the estate. This is done when the personal representative (also known as the executor) identified in the will, or an intended beneficiary of the estate, notifies the court of the need to open and administer the estate. It is important that the personal representative assess the nature of the estate, including the size, assets, and any possible outstanding debts. The personal representative should make a comprehensive list of these assets and their relevant details.
The personal representative should also seek out a qualified probate attorney. In Florida, a personal representative is required to hire an attorney unless (1) the personal representative is an admitted Florida attorney himself/herself or (2) the personal representative is the only interested party to the estate. A qualified Florida probate attorney at The Law Offices of Justin B. Stivers LLC can help guide you through the administration of the estate and help you to avoid any issues that may arise or lead to probate litigation.
Opening the Estate
Once the personal representative has identified the assets of the estate and hired a qualified probate attorney, a substantial amount of work must be done and paperwork must be filed with the Florida probate court. This includes, but is in no way limited to the following:
- Filing a petition to name a personal representative
- Valuing the assets and debts of the estate
- Notifying creditors and other interested parties of the probate action
- Counseling personal representatives on the actions they must take to fulfill their fiduciary duty
- Paying outstanding debts and tax obligations
- Distributing estate assets according to the wishes of the decedent
- Applying for federal tax ID number for an estate or trust
There may be more steps in the administration of the estate and there is always the possibility that creditors or interested parties will notify the estate and raise various objections. In this case, the probate process may proceed to litigation. There are a number of issues, which may arise throughout the probate process. The attorneys and staff at The Law Offices of Justin B. Stivers LLC have experience handling even the most complicated and highly contested probate matters and can help you throughout these potentially complex situations.
Closing the Estate
The Florida probate court may conclude that the estate administration is complete once all claims to the estate have been addressed, all debts have been paid and all assets accounted for and ready to be distributed. The attorney will then file a petition to close the estate. Once the distribution is complete, the personal representative will be discharged and the estate will be closed.
Your Next Step
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Justin B. Stivers LLC have years of experience handling simple to complex probate matters and want to make sure that this process goes as smoothly as possible. Please contact us today at 305-456-3255, or by email.