Often a loved one passes away with no estate plan in place and family members are expected to go through a time-consuming and costly legal process known as Probate in order to distribute their loved one’s property. While an estate is going through probate, family members must wait before occupying or using any property or assets the deceased left behind. As a result, conflict may sometimes arise amongst family members, further causing delays in the process.
What is the Probate Process?Probate is the legal process where an individual’s property is distributed after they pass away. Generally, the property is distributed to the Deceased person’s beneficiaries. When there is no will, the individual is said to have died intestate, and estate is settled pursuant to Florida’s intestacy laws. The purpose of the Probate process is to ensure that a deceased’s property and assets are distributed either according to the deceased’s will or state intestacy laws. The probate process begins with opening the estate for probate by filing the decedent’s will with the Probate court. Once the will has been offered for probate, the court determines its validity. If the court determines a will is valid, the will determines how the deceased’s assets and property will be administered (i.e., who will get what property and when will they receive it). In cases where there is no will or estate planning, the deceased person’s assets may still have to go to probate to be distributed. Florida’s intestacy law lays out how a decedent’s assets will be distributed if there is no will or estate plan.
The Probate Process Can Include the Following:
- Filing a Petition to Appoint Personal Representative;
- Settling outstanding debts and claims of creditors;
- Validating and Admitting the will to Probate;
- Distributing assets to the proper beneficiaries;
- Drafting an inventory of assets;
- Finalizing the Estate and closing administration.