Probate & Estate Administration
South Florida Probate Lawyer
The terms probate and estate administration refer to the court-controlled process of managing and distributing a person’s assets after he or she passes away. A properly designed and funded Living Trust can help avoid the stress, expense and delays associated with probate and court-managed administration.
Many of our clients wonder how long the probate process takes. This depends on a number of factors, including the size of the estate, its complexity, local rules, the schedule of the probate court, and more.
Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:
- Filing a petition with the probate court
- Notifying heirs named in the Will or statutory heirs if there is no Will
- Petitioning the appointment of a personal representative (if there is a Will) or an Administrator for the estate if no Will was created
- Making an inventory and appraisal of estate assets
- Paying applicable estate debt to creditors
- Selling off estate assets
- Paying estate taxes
- Distributing assets to heirs
If you are faced with the prospect of probating an estate, or have been named as a personal representative, as South Florida probate lawyers we can guide you through the process efficiently and with an understanding of the emotional stress you are going through.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a Will contest?
A Will contest is a situation in which someone objects to the terms of the Will. Many Wills are contested, and resolving the conflict can be quite expensive. Will contests often involve situations where children are to receive unequal inheritances, changes have been made to the Will shortly before the benefactor passed away, tangible assets are in dispute or the naming of the personal representative.
What assets are exempt from probate?
Some assets do not have to go through probate. These include retirement accounts where a beneficiary has been designated, life insurance policies, bank accounts designated as “pay on death” or “in trust for,” property titled as “joint tenants with right of survivorship,” and, of course, property owned by a Living Trust.
Do personal representatives get paid?
Personal representatives are reimbursed for legitimate out-of-pocket expenses and may be entitled to statutory fees. If you are considering accepting the duties and responsibilities that come with serving as a personal representative, you should know the risks involved and may want to contact an attorney for guidance.
How much does probate cost?
This depends on a variety of factors. Typically, expenses include personal representative fees, attorneys’ fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds. Bottom line: anywhere between 2 and 7 percent of the estate’s value.