Florida probate involves frequent communications between the attorney and petitioner or court-appointed personal representative for the estate, filings with the court, uploading orders for the judge's review and issuance, occasional court appearances at hearings (more so if the estate is contested), communications with representatives from financial institutions, and due process (notice given to beneficiaries and interested parties to the estate). Non-contested probate may range from an estimated three to six months to up to a year or over. Contested probate may last a year or longer, depending on various factors. Contested probate follows the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, including but not limited to the rules regarding discovery in regular civil litigation. Please call or email today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Probate Questionnaire and Consultation
The first step is to call the law office. During this time, your contact information will be obtained, so a probate questionnaire and engagement letter can be sent to you. A one-hour consultation may be scheduled at this time.
At the consultation, you should have the completed questionnaire, the original Last Will & Testament, or if no original, then a copy of the original Last Will & Testament, including any codicils, certified copy of the original death certificate, paid funeral bill, and the decedent's bills that have not been paid. If the decedent had a trust executed before passing, the original trust (or copy) should also be provided at the consultation. Based on a review of the assets in the estate, a determination will be made on the type of probate administration (generally summary or formal administration) that should be opened.
After the consultation, the initial court pleadings will be prepared. The petitioner or personal representative is required to sign the verified petitions and should promptly return such to counsel for filing with the court. If formal administration is filed, you will execute and have notarized an Oath of Personal Representative and Designation of Resident Agent, which original will be filed with the court. For testate estates, the original Last Will & Testament will be filed with the court. If the decedent passed without a Will, the probate will proceed intestate and follow Florida's intestacy laws.
Throughout the probate process, petitions to determine homestead and exempt property may be filed and Orders issued on such.
Creditors may file claims on the estate, seeking payment of debts owed by the decedent. If the debts are released or satisfied, then satisfaction and release of claim(s) will be filed.
Depending on the type of administration, an inventory of estate assets may be filed, as well as an accounting.
If the estate is contested, discovery will likely be conducted. Settlement agreements may be prepared, executed, and filed with the court.
This is not an exhaustive listing of the probate filings and is only a brief, general portrayal of the papers filed with the probate court. Estates vary in complexity and each is unique in its own way.
Court Orders and Distribution
At the end of the probate, the court issues the final Order, listing the distribution(s), and the estate is closed.