Estate Planning & Probate Lawyer, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Steps in Florida’s Probate Process

Attorney Geoff Levy can provide experienced guidance at every turn

Probate can be lengthy and expensive, so people often try to avoid it. If the estate is small and the assets have designated beneficiaries or are jointly owned, it may be possible to skip probate. However, large estates must go through probate, but planning can minimize the court’s impact.

Estates without a will, with multiple wills, or disputed wills cannot avoid probate. The Levy Firm PLLC provides specialized guidance with compassionate legal counsel. Contact Attorney Geoff Levy for a free consultation.

Probate, step-by-step

Florida has a handful of probate types, each with different processes. However, the most common are Formal Administration and Summary Administration. Summary administration is for small estates with an uncontested asset distribution plan. Qualifying estates are issued a summary order and go through a simplified process.

Formal administration is for estates that do have to go through the full probate process. Here are steps for formal probate administration in Florida:

  • Filing the Petition. The probate process begins with filing a petition with the probate court clerk in the county where the deceased person (decedent) resided. This petition requests the appointment of a personal representative (executor) to administer the estate.
  • Appointment of Personal Representative. Once the petition is filed, the court will review it and appoint a personal representative. If the decedent had a valid will (testate), the court will generally appoint the personal representative named in the will; if there is no valid will (intestate), or if the person named in the will is unable or unwilling to serve, then the court will use its discretion to appoint a personal representative. The personal representative is responsible for managing the estate's affairs, including inventorying assets, paying debts, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
  • Notification of Creditors and Beneficiaries. The personal representative must notify creditors of the estate and publish a notice to creditors in a local newspaper to alert potential claimants. Additionally, beneficiaries named in the will and heirs-at-law in cases of intestacy must be notified of the probate proceedings.
  • Inventory and Appraisal of Assets. The personal representative is required to compile an inventory of the decedent's assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and any other assets. Some assets may need to be appraised to determine their value accurately.
  • Payment of Debts and Taxes. The personal representative is responsible for paying the decedent's outstanding debts and taxes using estate assets. This may involve selling assets if necessary to cover expenses.
  • Distribution of Assets. Once debts, taxes, and administrative expenses have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or Florida intestacy laws if there is no will.
  • Final Accounting and Closing. After all tasks have been completed, the personal representative must prepare a final accounting detailing all transactions and distributions made during the probate process. The accounting is submitted to the court for approval. Once approved, the estate can be closed, and the personal representative is discharged from their duties.

Contact The Levy Firm PLLC for a free consultation

Do you need knowledgeable legal guidance for estate planning or probate matters in South Florida? Call Fort Lauderdale probate litigation attorney Geoff Levy for a free consultation. With compassionate legal counsel and tailored solutions, Geoff and his team are here to help you protect and secure your legacy. Don't wait; reach out now.

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Free Consultation. Contact Us Today.

If protecting your legacy and the financial security of your loved ones is a concern of yours, it’s a concern of ours. Let’s talk. Our law firm provides legal services in English and Spanish. Free consultations for new clients.

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